Friday, 31 December 2010

Wetherspoons, the New Year, and Kali's Last Hurrah

Wetherspoons sent me a letter (an actual, honest to god, sent-through-the-post letter) to tell me that their sausages were not vegan, but that I could eat the hash browns and the baked beans.  Joy.

I'd have been happier if they'd emailed me, with a more comprehensive list, or, at the very least, mentioned that I can look for vegan options on their website.  I knew that, but still.  It would have been thoughtful.  I do like hash browns (they're pretty good value there, and would only be completely unhealthy if I didn't desperately need the fat), but I've never liked baked beans.  If I were going to eat them, I'd pinch Gizzi's recipe, leave out the bacon, and use vegetable stock.

Anyone following this blog might know that I'm not fully vegan until tomorrow.  That is, although I have been eating vegan for the past few months, I always told myself that I had the option to eat vegetarian, one day a week.  Today, I took advantage of it, and ate a pizza.

Not pictured; flavour.

It was awful.  It tasted all bland - basically, fat and salt, and grease, and relatively flavourless - and I kept wondering why I bothered.  And now I feel awful about the poor veal calves and their mothers.  Plus, the customer service at Dominos was horrendous.

Never again.  Never, ever again.

Happy new year, people.

Thursday, 30 December 2010


The journey to Aberdeen was fine, foodwise.  I didn't even eat half my sammiches.  Scotland itself was full of delicious teenage angst, forbidden fruit, and romantic moments which can never go any further, but which left some of my favouite memories of 2010.

Anyway.  My hair and skin have been really dry recently, and I posted on a couple of forums about this.  One person suggested that I might not be getting enough fat.  I'd already been writing down what I was eating, since I'm trying to stick to Canadian Nutritional Guidelines, and cut down on my carbs, so I looked over the list, and figured out that I wasn't getting more than 20-30g of fat a day.  Not nearly enough, considering I need something like 60-70g a day.

I was a little surprised at this, but probably shouldn't have been.  I'd cut dairy and meat out of my diet, which are the two major sources of fat (and the reason most people get enough).  Without them, it becomes trickier.

So, I went out earlier, and did some shopping.  I bought an iPhone first, so this next bit will be filled with pictures.

Hi there.

In tescos, I bought some fresh salad leaves (two bags of mixed leaves, one of green), two kinds of salad dressing - I've never tried salad dressing before - some pine nuts, and some other stuff. Some Innocent Smoothies (I was looking for veg pots really, but couldn't be bothered to keep looking after the staff had steered me wrong twice), and some rice chocolate bars. Oh, and some more soup. It's ridiculously salty, but it's good. Oh, yeah, and some veg that was half price. A pack of mangetout peas, carrots, broccoli, and baby corn, and some "winter soup vegetables", which are basically chopped spring onions and baby carrots and whatnot. I have plans for those, to be detailed at the end. Anyway.

Look at me, being all healthy.  You can barely see the chocolate hiding under the lettuce.
When I got in, I made a salad. I mixed together about a cup of green leaves with another cup of the mixed salad leaves, added two tablespoons of pinenuts, and doused the lot in three tablespoons of french dressing. In retrospect, this was a tad too much. It was pretty good though.

Also pretty good; Wetherspoons sweet potato, spinach, and chickpea curry. Ask for extra poppadums instead of naan bread, and it's totally vegan.  See?  Only £4.99 on Thursdays, too, with a drink.

Going back to the sweet little salad, I figure I can take those to work, in that little tub. Two cups of loose salad leaves amounts to one portion (well, it's somewhere between one and two cups for a portion, but I prefer to round up in this case), and I have a tiny little jar around here somewhere that should hold about 30ml of salad dressing, or two tablespoons. That would be nice to take to work, a little tub of salad with dressing. Incidentally, I got the tiny little tub from Boots; it's designed for people to decant make-up into, when travelling. They have a whole range, and they're so handy.

Bukkake effect imminent.
Incidentally, that's what I wanted the innocent veg pots for. Partly to, y'know, eat them, and partly to reuse the containers.

Speaking of reusing containers, I've also been having trouble hitting my calcium intake. Going by Canadian nutritional guidelines again, an adult female requires two portions, which, in fortified rice milk, is 500ml, or two portions at 250ml a portion. I found an old plastic 500ml bottle, filled it to the top, and managed to drink the lot - with my salad - without noticing.  Which is an improvement, because if I'd tried that with cow's milk, I'd have been very sick.

As well as the salad dressing, fried food tends to be higher in fat, though I gather this is less good fat and more bad fat.  It's probably still worth being unafraid to fry veggie burgers, since they tend to be fairly dry anyway.  Nuts are good too - peanut butter, for instance, is almost half fat.  Avocados, too - I'm going to have a go at making guacamole.

Got milk?  Fortified with calcium and B12.
Now, for my plans.  Every month, I'm going to make a three-course dinner for myself, or for whoever else I feel like inviting.  A starter, a main course, and a dessert.  I want a different vague theme each time, and I want to make things that are new to me.  I don't want to get stuck in a rut.

This month, I'm going to go with a vaguely English winter theme.  The other day, I went to The Shepherd's Rest, and they had this amazing vegetable soup.  It was the soup of the day - which, I gather, is whatever the chef feels like making - and, presumably involved saute-ing the vegetables in vegetable oil, before adding them to vegetable stock.  Just a guess.  It was good though, and I plan to recreate it as the starter, along with freshly baked bread, ie, par-baked rolls from Tesco.  I can bake my own bread, it's just a pain. The entire process of baking bread is evil; there's the whole heating and multiplying thing, and then you have to pummel it, and it breathes, and pushes back, and then you kill the whole thing with fire and it's all right. But, anyway.

Dessert will be chocolate fudge cake - that is, a recipe for chocolate cake nicked from Chef Chloe, coated in Becky Crocker's Fudge Icing (once I've checked what "may contain traces of milk", when the ingredients list is fine, actually means - I suspect that it was made using equipment which is also used for products containing dairy, which would be fine by me).

It's the main I'm finding a bit tricky.  I'm thinking mashed potato with some of that french dressing on it - all tangy, and creamy, and oily, and garlicky, yum.  Plus, some of those mixed vegetables, the broccoli, mangetout peas and so on, with a green salad.  And what else?  Perhaps some kind of nut roast, or a new kind of seitan.  I know Holland and Barrett sell vegan seitan mixes and things, but I always think I could do so much better by myself.  And they tend to be expensive (much like those veg pots).  I'll have a think about it, as well as a think about future themes.

Oh, while in Scotland I also snacked on stuffing sammiches.  That is, stuffing mix (the kind that you add water to), spread out flat on a plate, and cooked in the microwave (the intructions are on the paxo mix box itself).  Then put it between two slices of buttered toast.  Et voila.

You could try adding cranberries or seitan to that, but I kind of like it by itself. Weirdly, I can also imagine it going well with some kind of cooked slices of apple, if they were all soft and yummy. Might try that myself.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010


I'm off to Scotland tomorrow.  Two trains, and just under seven hours.

I won't be stuck for things to do - if I weren't going, I'd be using those hours to read or get some work done, or watch TV programs on my laptop.  No, the problem is, snacks.  We lack lettuce and tomatoes, I haven't made seitan in ages, no tofu...

I've finally settled on PB&J sammiches, ready-salted crisps, and fruit.  Should keep me going.  I'm broke, you see, so I don't want to buy stuff if I can avoid it.

Oh, I'm also making a batch of vegan muffins for a friend of my grandmother's tonight.  Maybe there'll be some leftovers.

The other thing I'm doing tomorrow is heading to a Wetherspoons for breakfast.  I emailed them, but they've yet to get back to me about whether or not the sausages in the veggie breakfast are suitable for vegans.  If they are, I'm fairly sure I can sub out the fried eggs for extra hash browns, and have it totally vegan.  Otherwise, it'll just be a side of hash browns for me.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Marmite and Onion Roast Potato

This recipe isn't quite perfect yet, but the first try went pretty well.  I'm trying to recreate the taste of cheese and onion crisps.

I basically made my cheat's roast potatoes, only using the margarine/marmite mixture and onion salt.  There's an odd kind of beef gravy flavour on the bits where there's more marmite mixture than onion salt, but some are just perfect.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Marmite Pasta

Adapted from this recipe by Nigella Lawson.  And by "adapted", I mean I didn't bother to measure stuff, and I made it vegan.

  1. Cook some pasta in very salty water.
  2. When the pasta is nearly done, put a nob of vegan margarine into another saucepan (a 'nob' here meaning a lump about the size of an egg.  And another half an egg).
  3. Add a teaspoon of marmite, and melt.  
  4. Add a tablespoon of the pasta water.
  5. Drain pasta, mix together, eat.

It tastes a lot like pasta and cheese - it has a sharp tang, very reminiscent of cheddar, and the oil in the margarine helps, too.  Not terribly healthy, but I guess you could put broccoli in there too.

Speaking of which, I gave blood the other day, and my iron was way higher than it was as an omni. I blame the broccoli.  I'm also losing weight still; down from nearly eleven stone to 9 stone 5, this morning at least.  That's as much as I weighed at sixteen.

Saturday, 20 November 2010


Tescos sells a small range of vegan chocolate bars!  And, by small, I mean 'three', and two kinds of chocolate buttons.  But they are tasty, and cheap at 85p for the bars and 42p for the buttons.

Oh, idea!  I can add the buttons to my tofu cheesecake!  I always loved cheesecake at school, with its chocolate button on each slice.

Oooh.  They also have vegan whipping cream.   Also worth considering.

Finally, their own brand bourbon biscuits are only 42p, and are listed as being suitable for vegetarians.  The ingredients list seems vegan, but includes 'natural flavour', which I am suspicious of.

"Wheat Flour,Sugar ,Vegetable Oil ,Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder ,Glucose Syrup ,Dextrose ,Wheat Starch , Raising Agents (Ammonium Bicarbonate, Sodium Bicarbonate) ,Salt ,Natural Flavouring."

The only allergens listed are wheat, and that they're made in a nut-using factory.

I am in a cheesecake kind of mood.  But it's cold outside, and the Chinese supermarket is a bus journey and a walk away.

Also, the other day, I made another kind of peanut butter oat burger.  I highly reduced the peanut butter, but raised the marmite, which gave it a flame-grilled cheeseburger kind of taste.  I used cumin instead of caraway.  The only problem was, getting it all to mix in properly.

Also, David and I broke up.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Philosophy of Vegan Cooking

Taste, as perceived by us, is made up of the following basic tastes; salt, sour, sweet, bitter, and umami.  There's also mouthfeel.

I see no reason whatsoever why any or all of these cannot be replicated.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Thoughts on Peanut Butter Oat Burgers

I tried this recipe for lunch.  It's not my favourite.  I don't like the taste of the caraway seeds, and I find the peanut butter overpowering (I'm not the biggest fan of peanut butter).

However, the texture is fantastic.  I think I'll try tweaking it - lower the peanut butter down to one or two level tablespoons and up the marmite?  Cumin instead of caraway?

Incidentally, I tend to select seasonings by the smell.  If it smells right, I figure it'll taste right.  Caraway seeds smell like aniseed.  They also taste like aniseed.  I don't like aniseed.

While at work yesterday, I was thinking about food.  Specifically, how to recreate all of the good bits of the Purple Foodie's Oreo Cream Pie (creaminess, oreos, cheesecake-ness) with none of the bad bits (dairy products).  I love the Purple Foodie, but I wish she made more vegan dishes.  Her garlicky baked fries are perfect, but most everything else requires tweaking.  The challenge is fun, though.  I enjoy cooking so much more as a vegan than an omni.  I think because I'm forced to step out of my comfort zone. 

Anyway, cheesecake.

I know dark oreos (that is, those with a chocolate filling) are dairy-free in the US.  Unfortunately, that's not the case in the UK.  But, bournville biscuits are vegan (at least, one variety is - I haven't checked the others).  So that's the base sorted.  As for the filling...

My thoughts at  the moment are along the lines of hard tofu, blended, with icing sugar, and some biscuit crumbs in there.  Maybe a drop of rice wine vinegar to give it a mild cheesy tang.  Maybe some rice milk?  If it's too thin, I can thicken it like custard, by heating it and stirring in cornflour.  Maybe mix in some vanilla freedom (I am calling it that now), or coconut cream?  Vanilla essence/extract?  It might still be a tad thin, but I can probably get away with building the biscuit base up the sides as a pie case, and keeping it cold.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Cheat's "Roast" Potatoes


Potatoes - as much as you want to eat.  I find that one baking-potato-sized potato is good for two people
Oil (I use sunflower)
Seasonings - just salt is fine, but pepper and other things are good too.  I like my Garlic Italian spice, which is a mixture of nummy things.

  1. Cut the potato into pieces, and place into a microwave proof dish.  
  2. Pour some oil over, and season liberally.  Shake to coat.
  3. Cover with cling film, and microwave for three minutes.  If you don't poke holes in the clingfilm, it will do this terrifying vacuum-forming thing, but that shouldn't hurt the potatoes.  It is alarming, though.  
  4. Shake, add more seasoning if desired, and microwave for another three minutes.
  5. The potato pieces should be cooked through by now (try the stab test).  If they're not, just microwave a bit more.
  6. Fry pieces for a few minutes until crispy.  Don't add any more oil.  They may try to stick, so have a spatula handy to keep them in motion.

Also good as a snack (but so unhealthy...).  Try frying them with onions.  I haven't done that yet, but I bet it would be delicious.

You are a Gongedip

Title unrelated.

Yesterday was a Monday, so I could have been a vegetarian.  But, I didn't want to be.  I just stuck with veganism.  I'm vegan at work all the time now, because it's easier than explaining it every few days.

I went shopping yesterday.  There're a few recipes I want to try, for gingerbread and veggie burgers (which I will post when I've made them).  I also wanted to check out the "free from" aisle.  Plus, my Tesco clubcard vouchers had come through the post (though, god knows what I'll do with extra points on muffins, cookies, and doughnuts.  I can use the others, though).

I found that Tesco do an own-brand dairy-free chocolate bar.  It's made with rice milk, is 85p, and is delicious.  Also, Worthenshaw's Freedom Frozen Desserts are at 2 for £5 at the moment.  That's a bargain since they're normally £4.99.   I got two of the chocolate - they were out of strawberry, and the vanilla isn't my favourite.

Banana-Berry Muffins

The other day, I was reading this list of egg substitutes, which mentions using a 1/4 to 1/3 cup of mashed banana instead of an egg. That reminded me of this recipe, which I made as an omni. I decided to experiment.


150g (5oz) fresh or dried blueberries
100g (4oz) sugar (I used demerara)
100g (4oz) dairy-free margarine (I used Pure's sunflower oil spread)
300g (11oz) self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
1 large banana, mashed (I used a potato masher)
1tsp vanilla extract
140ml (1/4 pint) milk

  1. Cream the butter and sugar.
  2. Add the mashed banana, and mix in.
  3. Add the milk and vanilla extract (it will look disgusting at this point).
  4. Fold in the flour, and add the blueberries.
  5. Spoon into cake cases and bake at gas mark 3 for half an hour. 
These are delicious.  They have a faint tang of banana, which is nice.

    Sunday, 14 November 2010

    Experimental Veggie Burgers

    Last night, David had the brilliant idea of making veggie burgers.  I showed him a few recipes I was intending to make - peanut butter oat, and mushroom steakhouse-style  - when I got around to getting the ingredients.  That second one, in particular, has a very difficult list.  David decided to make some out of whatever he had in the kitchen.

    My style of cooking is not terribly experimental.  Reason being, I am Clumsy, and things tend to come out weird.  I tend to follow recipes, and make a few different versions of the same item, to get an idea of how it works, before I think of making up my own thing.  Incidentally, this is also how I learned to come up with my own knitting and cross-stitch patterns - keep doing it, to see why other people's recipes include different things, and what the changes do, and once you know all that, it's easier to make up your own.

    David made the burgers out of blended chickpeas and chopped onion.  We added in a bit of sunflower oil and some of the water the chickpeas had come in, and some vegetable suet and flour to make them less sticky.  Then we added spices.

    The handy thing about this recipe is that is has a basically blank flavour pallete, so you can make up your own flavours.  We used salt and pepper, rosemary, and cumin, if I recall correctly.  Then we ate them with lettuce, sliced tomato, and fried onions.  They were delicious.

    I want to try this recipe again.  I think, next time, I'll simplify the measurements to one tin of chickpeas, and one sliced onion.  Maybe two tablespoons of oil, half a cup of vital wheat gluten, and a quarter cup of water?  I'll play with the spices too.  It'll taste a bit stronger, with the extra onion, but shouldn't be overpowering.

    I just looked at a few more recipes, and this black bean burger looks pretty good.  Simple, too.

    Saturday, 13 November 2010

    Sticky Toffee Pudding

    I accidentally made sticky toffee pudding the other day.  I was going for Christmas cake, but it came out all gooey and crumbly, so I poured some golden syrup on it, and ate it with a Freedom Frozen Dessert.

    Recipe is as follows;

    1 1/2 cups plain flour
    1 cup brown sugar
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup water
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    1/8 cup vinegar of any kind
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

    1. Mix up the dry ingredients.
    2. Whisk together the wet ingredients and add to the dry ingredients.
    3. Bake at Gas Mark 4 for thirty minutes or so, or until a fork comes out clean.

    Goes really well with golden syrup.

    Sunday, 7 November 2010

    Changes I Didn't Expect

    I didn't really expect my thought processes to change.  I thought they'd stay exactly the same, and I'd just, eventually, stop craving the things I don't eat any more.  I thought watching cooking programs would be frustrating, since they contained so many dishes I couldn't make.  I didn't expect them to be interesting and then, swiftly, repulsive.

    Eating meat has become something that looks strange to me.  I feel like the cow in the picture, going "you eat what?!".  The entire process seems inhuman, in a more immediate way than it did before, and more horrific.

    At the same time, I could really go for a sausage mcmuffin.

    I flip between the two viewpoints rapidly, cycling through being, mentally, vegan, to being, again, mentally, omnivorous (and hungry).

    Being vegan has started to become difficult.  I'm now vegan every day except Monday and Thursday. Since I fell off the wagon last Tuesday, I spent Thursday as a vegan instead, so last week was my longest unbroken stint of veganism. Five days.  It started to hurt.

    I'd hoped that by doing it this way, I'd have an easier time of it, and the desire for animal products would slowly abate.  It turns out that it doesn't work that way.

    Today, I slept in, and skipped breakfast.  I ate three bananas and a tangerine, then, on my break, two hash browns, a quarter of a lettuce, tomato, and cucumber sandwich, and some onion rings.  When I got home I made myself a shicken (my nickname for chicken-flavoured seitan) sandwich with lettuce,  and had some ready salted crisps, and chocolate cake (Chloe Coscarelli's recipe again).  Not terribly healthy. Far too carby, lacking in calcium.  Probably a bit low on protein, too.  And not nearly enough food, but, tbh, I'm far more sleepy than I am hungry (hence the rambliness of this post).

    Thursday, 28 October 2010


    As I may have mentioned previously, I work at McDonalds.  I get a free meal every shift, and I'm lazy - I don't want to make a packed lunch every day.

    However, since January, I've been bringing in at least part of my lunch, on most shifts.  This doesn't have to change as a vegan.

    When I started going vegan at work, I chose the M burger, with no meat, cheese, or dressings on it - essentially, a lettuce and tomato sandwich.  Since this was a special, it's now been discontinued.  So, I've been having a Chicken Legend, again with no meat or dressings - essentially, a lettuce sandwhich, but my coworkers would normally put some tomato on it for me.  I've just (today) found that the Chicken Salad Deli comes with, apart from mayo and chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber, so I'll probably switch to that.  I'm not a big fan of cucumber, but hey - before two months or so ago, I never ate lettuce.  I also thought that I didn't like tomato, but it's slowly growing on me.  I can try cucumber again.

    I have to admit, I've yet to finish all the tomato that comes on a deli - I still prefer the bites without any.  But I'm getting better.  I'm sure I can reach the same point with cucumbers, and deli's are available year round.

    I like the items made with nicer breads.  I don't like the classic McDonalds hamburger buns - I find them too sweet.  I used to eat them with the meat, but I really don't think they'd work without them.  I'll be sticking with the ciabattas and  deli and bakehouse rolls.

    A manager at a different McDonalds told me today that the onion rings have butter in them.  She didn't seem to understand my question - it's not in the ingredients list, and it's not in the oil, so where exactly is the butter getting in?  She just kept repeating that it's in there somehow.  I'm going to go ahead and ignore that.

    I generally try to take water and fruit to work - usually apples and bananas.  I've stopped craving the desserts.  I could eat the apple pies (they're cooked in oil which may be contaminated with the chicken or fish oil, but that doesn't actually bother me), but I just don't want them.  I don't want brownies or ice cream, or even a spoonful of chocolate pieces.  I just don't crave them any more.

     I usually get some kind of sandwich made up, and have fries, onion rings, or ready salted crisps (from home).  I generally end up getting a coke as well, even if I have water with me.  I've tried the salads, but I find them unappetizing, and a bit of a vegetable overload.

    You can check out the ingredients and allergen lists here.   I would be wary of anything that lists "flavouring".

    I wasn't given much variety in food as a child.  I was fussy, but, as I've shown, I can grow to like foods by continual exposure.

    I used to always get either a totally plain cheeseburger or fishfingers.  It was a big step for me to try the sour cream and chive dip (not vegan or vegetarian, since they can't guarantee that the factory is free of animal products), and I'd never have dreamt of eating the burgers with vegetables and ketchup on them.  I'm getting better.

    Tuesday, 26 October 2010


    Flapjacks are nice and easy.

    You'll need;

    • 6oz Butter Substitute (again, I used Pure's dairy-free sunflower oil spread)
    • 6oz Sugar (I used demerara, but it doesn't matter)
    • 8oz Porridge Oats
    You can also add in things like glacé cherries mixed in, or a layer of vegan chocolate (I used rice milk chocolate bars from here) on top.  No reason you can't use vegan chocolate chips either.  I like to add in a tablespoon or two of golden syrup because I am a Sugar Junkie.

    In my latest batch, I used ground (that is, blended) hazelnuts as a replacements for 2oz of porridge oats.  I see no reason why other kinds of nuts couldn't be put in as well, especially if you wanted to up the protein content.  I assume nuts are more proteiny than oats - I'm not sure.

    I just checked, and the oats I use have 10.6g of protein per 100g.  From this list you can see that this is lower than quite a lot of nuts.

    Incidentally, I made these for David, following his running the Birmingham half-marathon, along with a few protein shakes.  One was chocolate and one had strawberries and raspberries in it instead, which was yummy. 

    As for method;

    1. Melt the 'butter' in a saucepan.  
    2. When the butter is melted, turn the heat off and add in the other ingredients.  Mix them together, and place them in a baking dish, like a brownie dish.  This mixture perfectly filled my 6 by 8 dish.
    3. Bake at gas mark 4 for 20-25 minutes, until the top goes golden brown.  The flapjacks will still be very soft at this point, and they'll harden up as they cool.  Take this opportunity to slice them into pieces.

    Monday, 25 October 2010

    Easy Vegan Lasagne

    I'd never made lasagne before, so I googled a couple of recipes for ideas.  I knew I wouldn't have any trouble with vegan pasta, and I had a good idea for the cheese, but the sauce was eluding me.

    Most of the recipes seemed to be overly complicated, so I just made one up.  This one serves four, and came out with a good mix between flavours.  I'm not the biggest fan of mushrooms, but cut them tiny, and you won't even notice that they're there.  On the other hand, if you do like mushrooms, add a few more and cut them bigger.

    Cook the pasta sheets while making the sauce.  I used a baking dish that was 6 by 8 inches, and needed six pasta sheets to cover it twice.  They stuck together when I boiled them, but I just pulled them apart.  There's probably a better way of doing this.

    For the sauce;

    1 Onion
    1 Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
    2/3 Cup of Button Mushrooms
    Spices; I used a premixed spice called Garlic Italian, which contains basil, herb, sage, garlic, and lots of nummy things.  I also added freshly ground black pepper, and some sea salt.

    1. Chop the onions and the mushrooms, and fry them in oil.
    2. When the onions start to go translucent around the edges, add the tomatoes in their juices, and simmer.  Season to taste.  
    3. Simmer for ten to twenty minutes, while the liquid reduces slightly.

    To make the cheese topping;

    1/2 Cup of Cashews and 1/2 Cup of Water, OR, 1 Cup of Milk Substitute
    1 Packet of Silken or Extra Silken Tofu (between 300-350g).
    1/2 Tsp Garlic Salt
    1 Tsp Salt
    1 Tsp Rice Wine Vinegar

    1. Blend the cashew till liquid, if using them, and then add the water.  Otherwise, just pour the milk into a blender.
    2. Add the other ingredients and blend.

    To assemble;

    1. Make a layer of sauce in the baking dish, and cover with pasta sheets.  Add another layer, cover with more pasta sheets, then pour on some of the cheese mixture (I suggest using the rest to finish this recipe, and set into cheese).  Salt and pepper the top, if you want.  I did.
    2. Bake at gas mark 4, until the cheese mixture goes all bubbly and sets into a nice crust.  About twenty minutes.

    I served this with pre-mixed salad leaves, cherry tomatoes, and the Purple Foodies' garlicky baked fries.

    Easy Garlic Bread

    Garlic bread is quite easy.  My method is as follows.

    English Muffins (1 per person)
    Butter Substitute (I used Pure dairy-free sunflower margarine, but up to you).
    Powdered Garlic
    Flat-Leaf Parsley (that is, the tiny little leaves chopped in a spice jar.  You could also use powdered parsley or fresh parsley).

    1. Slice the English Muffins into fourths (lengthways).  This bit is optional.
    2. Mix the garlic butter in the following proportions; 1 tablespoon "butter", 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon parsley. 
    3. Spread the butter onto the english muffins.
    4. Put under the grill and toast until the butter is all melty and nice.

    You could also just microwave it for ten seconds.

    I like to add fake cheese.  Grate/slice it on and nuke it in the microwave for a few seconds so it melts properly.

    Dinner (Italian)

    Last night, I made dinner for David.  A proper, three-course, Italian meal, with wine and mints afterwards.  All totally vegan, and all fairly easy, since I am a Lazy Cook.

    The starter was cheesy garlic bread.  I went for Bella Italia style, rather than pizza hut.  That is, soft breadsticks rather than toasted slices of french baguette.  All recipes will be in later posts, to keep things neat, but I'll come back and link.

    The main course was lasagne, with garlicky baked fries (using the purple foodies' recipe) and a salad consisting of pre-mixed salad leaves and some baby tomatoes.  I had salt and pepper grinders on the table.  These are new!  I've had the salt grinder for a while, but I bought the pepper one with the other ingredients.  I also tried my cider vinegar with it, which went really well with the salad leaves.  I'd never actually tried it before, although I've had it for a while - I use it to condition my hair and make cakes.

    The lasagne was tricky, at first, but then surprisingly easy.  I googled a lot of recipes for lasagne and vegetarian lasagne, to get an idea of how it was made.  They all seemed really complicated, so I ignored them and made one up.  It tasted amazing.  The garlic fries came out really well too, especially for a first attempt.  I served them with a McDonald's Sweet Chilli dip which I got with some onion rings (vegan incidentally - it's a tempura batter, not a chip-shop batter), decanted into a little pot.  It went really well, but next time, I'm thinking guacamole.  I think the creaminess will work.  Or, I could probably make some kind of garlic-herb dip using tofu.  I know you can approximate Dominoes garlic and herb dip with mayonaise, mustard, garlic and parsley - I wonder if I can sub in silken tofu for the texture of the mayonaise?  Maybe some onion powder or something instead of the garlic?  Almost every part of this meal involved garlic.

    For dessert, I got a tin of pineapple chunks, added a bit of boiled water and chopped strawberries, and set it with agar agar.  I cut it into chunks, and put this in a bowl with some fresh chopped strawberries and raspberries, and served it with coconut milk flavoured with vanilla and icing sugar.

    Finally, I got a few pieces of Turkish Delight, from the Cranberry stall in the Bullring.  These weren't cheap - they were £1.39 for 100g, which worked out to about thirty pence each.  Incidentally, real Turkish Delight is vegan, but the cheaper stuff uses gelatin, and isn't.

    I got two pieces of mint (actually, David did), and two of rose, and sliced them up on a little plate.  There was also Spanish chocolate.  And wine.  David chose the wine, because he's good at that.

    Oh, and I made flapjacks the other day, and a berry-flavoured protein shake.  I may post those up as well, depending on time.

    Tuesday, 19 October 2010

    Basic Chilli

    The following is my favourite chilli recipe.  It's a work in progress, since I generally experiment with the spices.  You can add other stuff to it, too.  It's based on this one.

    2 Tomatoes
    2 Tins of Chopped Tomatoes (in their juices)
    1 Onion
    1 Cup of Mushrooms
    2 Tins of Kidney Beans
    1 Green Bell Pepper
    Dash of Cayenne Pepper

    Spices - I used salt, pepper, a mixture of Indian spices (don't ask me which ones, it was a pre-made mix), and garlic salt (there is nothing bad about garlic salt).

    You can also add in various other vegetables - just go with what you like.  This recipe is very open to customisation.

    1. Slice everything (except the tinned tomatoes and kidney beans, obviously), and deseed the tomatoes and bell pepper.  
    2. Fry the onion, mushrooms, tomatoes, and bell pepper together.  When the onions start to go translucent around the edges, add the tomatoes and juice, and bring to a simmer.  
    3. Add the (strained) kidney beans and leave to simmer for about twenty minutes.  Season to taste.

    The liquid should reduce as it simmers - if you want it thinner, add the water from the kidney beans.

    I find this freezes really well, and lasts in the fridge for about a week.  It's quite proteiny, especially if you go ahead and add a few more tins of beans (any kind, really).

    Wednesday, 13 October 2010

    Vegan Cheese

    Based on JenShaggy's recipe, here.

    1 cup of Vegan Milk (I used soy) OR 1/2 cup of Cashews + 1/2 cup of Water.
    1 packet of  Silken Tofu (between 300-350g, or around 12oz).
    1/2 tsp Garlic Salt
    1 tsp Salt
    1 tsp Rice Wine Vinegar
    4 tsp Agar Powder

    You'll also need a blender, a saucepan, and a bowl for the cheese to set in.

    1. If using the cashews and water option, blend the cashews into powder.  Add the water, and blend a bit more. Otherwise, just pour the milk into the blender and go to step two.
    2. Add tofu, garlic salt, salt, and rice vinegar, and blend till smooth.
    3. Add the Agar powder and blend again, just to mix it in (I find I get lumps if I don't do it this way, but I suck at mixing).  Lumps are a very bad idea in this mix.
    4. Pour into a saucepan and let the mixture sit for five minutes.
    5. Bring to mixture to the boil over a medium heat, stirring occasionally.  The mixture should get thicker, and the flavours will change, and become more cheesy.
    6. Pour mixture into a bowl, smooth over the top like brownies, and let it set in the fridge for about four hours.
    You can make this without the Agar powder, in which case it becomes a cheesy-flavoured sauce, a bit like a roux or bechamel.   If you use garlic powder rather than garlic salt, you may want to adjust the amounts.

    When set, this mixture should slide easily out of whatever it's been set in, and you should be able to grate it and slice it.  It does have a slightly garlic aftertaste, so you may want to only use a pinch of garlic salt, adjust the amount, or melt it on toast for cheesy garlic bread.  Oh yeah, it melts.  Agar powder does that.

    As for where to get the ingredients; you can get pretty much everything except the agar powder and the tofu from a high street supermarket.  I go with tescoes.  However, the rice wine vinegar is cheaper from a Chinese supermarket, which is where I got the tofu.  Theoretically, you can get the Agar powder there too, but my local was out of stock, so I bought it from here.

    Wednesday, 6 October 2010

    Vegan Fast Food

    A comment I submitted to one of PETA's info pages, here;

    As a vegan working in McDonalds, I sometimes find myself having to take advantage of the free lunch offered each shift.

    (In Britain) the fries are vegan. All of the soft drinks are, except the fanta, which contains gelatin (smarties are also not vegetarian or vegan, and nor is the sour cream and chive dip). A hamburger with no meat is vegan (although some ingredients are made in a factory containing milk, and it can't be guaranteed that it contains no dairy products at all). An M burger with no meat, cheese, or sauces is also vegan (it's a lettuce and tomato sandwich). Generally speaking, the buns alone are vegan, so you may be able to build an option, depending on how helpful the staff are.

    A veggie burger, at McDonalds, is not vegetarian unless you specifically request that it is cooked in the fry vat. Otherwise, they can't guarantee that it won't come into contact with the oil from the chicken or fish (same applies to the apple pies, but I suspect they contain egg too - I'd have to check). A veggie burger cooked in the fry vat with no sauce is vegan. A veggie deli without the mayonnaise is also vegan (remember the fry vat).

    A garden side salad with balsamic dressing is vegan, but none of the other salad options are.

    On the breakfast menu, bagels, hash browns, oatmeal, jam, and golden syrup are vegan.

    Edit;  Sorry, the oatmeal isn't vegan, but the apple pies are if they're cooked in the fry vat, or if you don't mind the risk of their coming into contact with the chicken or fish oil.

    Thursday, 30 September 2010

    Just a quick post

    I made vegan cheese!

    Okay, it's a little too garlicky and salty, but it definitely tastes like cheese.  I have ideas, to use proper powdered agar gar to solidify it, leave out some ingredients to make it mild like marscapone, leave out the garlic salt to make it taste like cream cheese...

    It's really good with broccoli and pasta, too.  Yeah, I ate broccoli.

    Sunday, 26 September 2010

    Kali's ongoing effort to eat more vegetables

    So, I cooked yesterday.  I made roast potatoes with steamed broccoli and baby corn, and boiled runner beans (from the plant, which I'm told is an important distinction, by my grandmother, who cooked them), with slices of seitan.  And I ate it.  Okay, I had to cover the broccoli in gravy, and I left some of it, but I ate it.  The corn was okay, too.  I'm not yet at the point where it's yummy, but it's certainly edible.

    My grandmother made the runner beans.  Again, edible, but I think I can see what people mean when they say steaming is better than boiling.

    I'm quite impatient to make vegan mozarella and cheese sauce.  I want macaroni cheese with broccoli and/or cauliflower, and baked ziti!  I'm fairly sure I can microwave those, so they can go in lunch boxes, too.

    For that, I need some extra silken tofu, rice vinegar, and agar.  Oh, and some pasta sauce.  At least two of those I can get from tesco.  Tomorrow, I'll have a look at the vegan food shop on Allison Street (which, it turns out, is in the same building as the Warehouse Cafe), and see if they stock silken tofu.

    The other thing I wanted to try is the root vegetable mash from Cook Yourself Thin (it is surprisingly not frustrating, watching cooking shows as a vegan).  I'd make a few obvious changes - maybe cook it in water, or soy milk, and use soy margarine, obviously - but it would be interesting.  My grandmother also picked up some parsnips, which channel 4 tells me can be mashed with potatoes.  That one looks nice.

    I tend to get sugar cravings throughout the day, and they tend to go together.  For instance, if I have chocolate, I want coke.  I haven't really had those today, despite having two slices of (vegan) chocolate cake.

    My idea of trying to eat a fruit or vegetable at every meal is going well.  To be honest, on days when I'm not working, I don't really do meals, just snacks, but I've eaten a lot of apples and bananas, and drunk some orange juice.  I'll go have a seitan, lettuce, and baby spinach sandwich in a minute.  I actually like those, which is surprising to me.

    Friday, 24 September 2010


    I'm finding it hard living without cheese, on vegan days.  So today I researched some alternatives.

    Looking at recipes, it seems like nutritional yeast flakes are used in vegan cheese sauces, so I ordered some of them from  I also got a rice milk chocolate bar (apart from the P&P and the hassle of ordering them online, they're pretty competitively priced) and some vegan marshmallows.  I have a Plan, involving those last two items, some kebab sticks, a microwave, and some strawberries.

    When I get the yeast flakes, I'm going to try a form of vegan macaroni cheese.  Most of the recipes are similar, so I won't post a specific one until I do it.

    A few days ago, I made a vegan Sunday lunch.  Slices of seitan with gravy (made from granules, which are vegan, I checked), and mashed potato with salt and soy margarine.  Next time, I'll include some steamed vegetables, and maybe, if I can be bothered, make some vegan yorkshire puddings.  We'll see.  It was good, anyway.

    Most of my meals don't include vegetables.  I wasn't raised that way, so I'm having to train myself into the habit.  I'm aiming to have some form of vegetable with every meal, and slowly increase the amount.  So, for breakfast, I had oatmeal with soy milk, golden syrup, and chopped strawberries.  Now, I'm snacking on a seitan sandwich with baby spinach leaves and an apple.  I really want to perfect tempura.  I've never liked corn before, but those baby corns were absolutely delicious.  I'll try some steamed, but I really want them deep fried in batter.

    I find myself eating a lot of carbs.  I'm not putting on weight, because my diet is normally like that, but I'd like to change it.  So we'll see how the veggies go.  I've also found that most bread doesn't have eggs or milk products, so I've found myself snacking on that, a lot.

    Apparently, the Canadian guidelines indicate that adults should enjoy 6-7 portions of fruit and veg a day, 5-6 portions of grain, 1-2 portions of milk or milk substitutes, and 1-2 portions of meat and meat substitutes (if I recall correctly).  I'd like to aim for that.

    I'm also trying to drink a lot more water.  I have very dry skin, so it will help with that, too.

    I want some vegan mozzarella.  I want to make vegan ziti.  My version will involve baking cooked pasta in sauce (probably tesco's own brand sauce), and covering it in some form of mozzarella.  In a pinch, I can use the macaroni sauce.  I'm also thinking of putting slices of seitan on a hot-dog bun and covering it with the cheese sauce.  I can also use that sauce as lasagne sauce.

    I've found that there's a vegan food store on Allison Street, in Digbeth (Birmingham).  I've got a suspicion that it's in the same building as the Warehouse Cafe (which serves vegan and vegetarian food).  I'll take a look when I've got some spare time.

    Well, I say that, but I still haven't found time to check out Holland and Barrett.

    I also heard about a restaurant called Jyoti, which serves vegetarian food, caters generously to vegans, and is based around Gujerati food.  My father's family are from Gujerat, so I confess to having some interest in checking it out for that reason alone.

    Most recipes out there are US-centric.  I found a recipe for vegan mozarella, and one ingredient that lots of people seem to have trouble finding is MimicCreme.  Apparently, you can make a substitute using cashew nuts and water.  Might be worth a try, if I can get my blender to pound them properly.  Apparently, sainsburys is quite good for stocking tofu.  I'm not sure about agar flakes, but I can get rice vinegar from tesco.  I could probably do with getting a new bottle of garlic powder, mine is pretty old.

    Thursday, 16 September 2010

    Nuts in Order of Protein Content

    First to last, information taken from here.  All totals per 100g.

    Peanuts - 24.3g
    Pistachios - 19.3g
    Cashews - 17.2g
    Almonds - 16.9g
    Pine Nuts - 14g
    Brazil Nuts - 12g
    Walnuts - 10.6g
    Pecan - 9.2g
    Hazelnuts - 7.6g 
    Macadamia -7g
    Coconut (dessicated) - 5.6g
    Coconut (fresh) - 3.2g
    Chestnuts - 2g

    Of course, nuts don't contain complete proteins, so you do need to be getting some from other sources, such as vegetables, legumes, or grains.

    There's a rough guide to calculating your protein requirement here, with charts here.  According to those, as a twenty-two-year-old female, with a middling active life, I need between 46-55g a day, which is quite a variation.  Other sources will also offer slightly different amounts.  The higher score came from the calculation, which is generic to males and females, while the lower one is from the female charts.


    D'you know what really ticks me off?  Those vegans who are really evangelical about it.

    I've been reading Living Vegan for Dummies, by Alexandra Jamieson.  To be fair, it does have some useful information in it, although it's all very US-centric.  But, the first two chapters are mostly devoted to how utterly fabulous and moral us vegans are, and let's laugh and patronise the silly omnivores who don't understand, and oh noooooo, we can't use the same utensils, because we're so moral and cruelty-free!

    She makes me want to sacrifice a chicken.

    Okay, I am saving the moo-cows and the cluckclucks.  I don't need a bloody parade.

    Choco-Banana Protein Shake

    This is the most delicious thing ever.  I adapted the recipe from here, and their version has nutritional information as follows;

    Calories: 348; Calories from Fat: 120
    % Recommended Daily Value:
    Total Fat: 13.4g, 21%
    Saturated Fat: 2.6g, 13%; Trans Fat: 0.0g
    Cholesterol: 0mg, 0%
    Sodium: 130mg, 5%
    Total Carbohydrates: 50.9g, 17%
    Dietary Fiber: 6.7g, 27%
    Sugars: 25.2g
    Protein: 12.9g
    Vitamin A 2%, Vitamin C 17%, Calcium 8%, Iron 21%

    I made a few adaptations to their recipe, mostly through lack of ingredients.  My version was;

    1 cup soy milk
    1 banana
    2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
    1 tbsp fructose
    2 tbsp walnuts

    All blended together.

    This tasted good, but it's nowhere near as protein-y as the original, which used cashew nuts.  As you can see here, cashew nuts have almost twice the protein of walnuts.  I only replaced them because I have no patience and no cashew nuts.  This version will also be fattier, as that's the other notable thing about walnuts.

    I found that all the varieties of sweetened cocoa powder I looked at also had whey powder in them, so I used my unsweetened variety (Bournville), with half as much fructose (fruit sugar - it's pretty easy to find, it's made by Tate and Lyle).  I'd really like to start using agave in cooking, I'm just having trouble finding it.

    I started by putting everything in the blender and blending.  I think it would be better to start by putting in the bananas and nuts, and blending those alone before adding the powders and liquids, as my version still has whole walnuts at the bottom.

    Edit; A few weeks ago, I made a version which used half a cup of strawberries and raspberries instead of the cocoa powder.  That was pretty good.

    Wednesday, 15 September 2010


    Sorry about the lack of updates here - it's been a busy few weeks.

    At the moment, I'm vegan on three days of the week, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.  I have several ideas for various lunchbox items, but I haven't quite gotten around to preparing them yet, so, on those days, I've been limited to eating fries on my break. I have, however, been making green smoothies which are really quite delicious, although I need to get a greater variety of greens to put in.

    I'm slowly training myself into liking vegetables more.  I'm now very happy to have lettuce and baby spinach on cheese sandwiches, and, in the next few days, I'll be baking my own bread, making seitan, and buying some form of vegan margarine, once I've had a look at what's out there.  Then that item will be vegan.  I'll also post about each recipe as I make them.

    I must confess that I'm currently eating a lot of carbs on vegan days.  I generally start off with oatmeal, and have fries and ready salted crisps.  This Isn't Good.  I'm working a lot less next week (as in, down from seven days to one) so I'll be able to make and freeze more options that can be prepared quickly.

    I've also discovered people like Chloe Coscarelli and Vegan Dad, who list a number of great recipes on their blogs.

    Wednesday, 1 September 2010


    I spent some time browsing vegan cookbooks in Waterstones this morning, to get an idea of what I'm letting myself in for.  Surprisingly, it doesn't seem too bad.

    What I'll miss most, I suspect, are desserts.  Yummy little things with whipped cream, and chocolate.  Cheesecake.  Ice cream.  Giving up meat wasn't too bad, but giving up those things will hurt.

    So, I was quite pleased to find books like Cathe Olson's 'Lick It' and Sharon Valencik's Sweet Utopia.  There are also a number of books with recipes for vegan cupcakes, which is handy, since I like baking (there were so many that I didn't bother to note down any titles, especially since there are blogs out there too).

    A few other books that looked interesting were Devra Gartenstein's The Accidental Vegan and Lauren Ulm's Vegan Yum-Yum (if I recall correctly, that was the one with the vegan worcestershire sauce recipe).  Ulm's blog can be found here.

    I also found Living Vegan for Dummies, which was exactly the kind of guide I wanted to read (I presume - I haven't read it yet).  I borrowed that one from the library, where it was under health, rather than cookbooks.

    Sunday, 29 August 2010

    About This Blog

    Since I've been reading blogs like The Clean Bin Project and Fed Up With Lunch: The School Lunch Project, the idea has been growing to do a project of my own.  To go vegan, for one year.  2011, from January 1st to December 31st.

    I'm twenty-two, and I've been vegetarian for about two months now.  My boyfriend has been vegetarian for over a decade (same age).

    When we first met, I remember that we discussed his vegetarianism, back when I was an omnivore.  One point that I made was that it seemed pointless to avoid beef but to drink milk - after all, calves will still be born and slaughtered in order for the cows to keep producing milk.  Animals still die.  Then, it seemed to me, that all or nothing were the only options, and that half measures were ineffective.

    I don't feel that way any more.  I see things more on a sliding scale now.

    That video was part of what triggered my decision to go vegetarian.  I know that every vegetarian defines the subtleties for themselves, so here's what I consider it to mean, for me personally.

    I don't eat meat, including chicken and fish.  I will, however, eat things that have been cooked in oil that has also been used to cook animal products.  I avoid things, such as Fanta and Smarties, that are made using small amounts of animal products.

    I don't feel that killing animals for food is morally wrong.  I do, however, feel that treating animals cruelly is wrong, which brings me right back to the milk issue.

    I also gave myself an 'out'.  That is to say, I can eat meat if I end up being offered the chance to try something rare or expensive, or if we're in a restaurant or somewhere that I don't often get the chance to go to, and avoiding meat will ruin the experience.

    That may seem like "not really" being vegetarian, but think about it.  I've cut down my meat intake by 99% (since all I've had is one lapse, consisting of a portion of fish and chips from the local chippy on my birthday.  It was delicious).  If I didn't allow myself that 'out', I highly doubt I'd have had the strength of mind to do it.  That's also my logic for being vegan for one year.  It'll be easier to avoid certain foods if I can tell myself that I'm only putting it off, not that I can never have it again.

    Surprisingly (to me, at least) the transition from omni to veggie hasn't been too difficult.  Quorn is a pretty good substitute (although quorn burgers are weird - sausages are good, though), and I've also modified our family curry recipe to be vegetarian, and made an excellent vegan chilli (the recipe for which will appear in another post).  I'm a very fussy eater, I should also mention.  I'm willing to try new things, but my body takes a while to get used to them.  I was raised on chips (fries), and, embarrassingly, don't recognise new foods sometimes (couscous was very confusing).  It took me several weeks of being exposed to it at work before I brought myself to try chilli, although the transition from meat to vegan in that case was very easy.  I also have a mild addiction to sugar and processed foods, and dislike most vegetables (although I'm fairly sure that that's mostly a question of familiarity).

    That fussiness is why I've started this blog early.  To give myself time to look at my diet, and think of good substitutes, mostly for eggs and cheese, which is where the majority of my protein intake comes from.  That delicious chilli, for instance, I normally eat on a baked potato with grated cheese, not by itself.  Most of the things I eat involve cheese or eggs.

    So, I guess we'll see how it goes.
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