Saturday, 29 January 2011

The Warehouse Cafe and Sheese

I didn't make it to Browns today - I am so broke.  Especially after going to the Warehouse Cafe, where I insisted on ordering a starter, main, dessert, and a chocolate milkshake, simply because I could.  And then stopping by the vegan shop downstairs for kelp powder and Sheese, and Holland and Barrett for ground flaxseed and lentils.

The food was good.  The range of main courses wasn't terribly impressive, but where they really shone were the desserts.  I never get dessert.  I might go back there soon, purely for the desserts.  The garlic bread starter was no better or worse than anywhere else, and notable mostly for being vegan.  It wasn't as good as Bella Italia's, and I think the one I made a few months back was slightly better, too, mostly because I really like soft garlic bread rather than crispy.  They took a little while to bring the food out (about forty minutes).

The Warehouse Cafe is a sweet little place, really.  I want them to do well.  The conversation was excellent too, but you can't blame the Warehouse Cafe for that.

The Sheese is interesting.  I got the mature cheddar kind, to see how it tastes, and it is pretty good.  It tastes like cheese.  However, it does have a slightly plasticky after-taste.  I want to see how it melts, and make scalloped potatoes with it tomorrow.  Shame I'm out of spring onions.

The kelp powder is to make fish fingers with.  I'm also going to need some Old Bay seasoning, which I can buy here.  Incidentally, that's quite an interesting site - it imports American food products to sell in Europe.  I can see that being handy, since so many vegan recipes call for American ingredients.  They also accept paypal, which is useful.

I'm going to flavour slices of tofu with Old Bay and kelp powder, then cover them with some kind of breading and bake them.  I'm planning to add in a couple of tablespoons of the flaxseed into the breading mixture too, for the Omega 3s and 6s.  Not sure what else I'll use yet.  No clue what I'll do with the lentils.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Fast Food and Restaurants

So, yesterday was the first time in ages that I ate at McDonalds.  In this case, a spicy veggie deli, with no ranch dressing and no chilli sauce (because I don't like chilli sauce, it is vegan), a medium coke, and a medium fries.  It wasn't that great, it made me feel sick, and, afterwards, I figured out that it covered fully half my calorie allowance for the day (2000, for an adult female).  And a bit more (1055 total).  It didn't even taste that good.

Burger King's Veggie Bean Burger is slightly better.  Their veggie patty is less dry, and the burger comes with a lot more on it, so you're not limited to just lettuce when you veganise it by leaving off the cheese and mayo.

(Incidentally, you should note that the risk of cross contamination with oils used to cook non-vegan food, which is a slight risk for both of these, is not a concern for me).

Burger King doesn't really come in any better on the calorie front though - a veggie bean burger meal, with medium fries and a coke comes to 954.  In fact, the McDonalds one is probably about the same, since I accounted for taking the mayo and cheese off the veggie bean burger (as Burger King kindly lists the calorie content for individual items), but not for taking the sauces off the veggie deli.

Tomorrow, I have two events, one for lunch, and one for dinner.  One with my feminist group, several of whom are vegetarian, and one with a vegetarian/vegan group, all of whom are vegetarian/vegan.  Lunch will be at the Warehouse Cafe, a vegetarian cafe on Allison Street, and the other at Browns in Coventry.  Apparently, Browns is good foodwise, but fucking awful customer service-wise.  I'll let you know how it goes.

I've been to the Warehouse Cafe before, as we held our fundraiser there.  It was pretty good, from what I remember.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Hail Seitan

...because I had to use that title, at least once.

Seitan is 'wheat meat' a kind of fake meat made from nutritional yeast and mashed beans, usually, with various other flavourings and ingredients to get slightly different textures and tastes.

Incidentally, I am very sick of omnivores being puzzled about why veg*ns make fake meats. I didn't give up meat because I didn't like the taste, all right?

Anyway; this recipe is adapted from one on Vegan Dad's blog, which he adapted from Isa.


1/2 Cup Cannellini Beans (rinsed and drained)
1 Vegetable Stock Cube, dissolved in one cup of water (I am lazy)
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Cloves of Garlic, grated or finely chopped
1 1/4 Cups Vital Wheat Gluten (I ordered mine from here a while back)
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
Seasonings - I used Sage, Oregano, Parsley, Paprika, and Onion Salt.

1.  First, drain the cannellini beans, and put half a cup of them into a mixing bowl (incidentally, half a cup is about half a tin - I suggest using adding the rest to baked beans, to make them super proteiny).  Mash them until no whole ones are left.  I used a potato masher.

2. Add the vegetable stock. You could use homemade vegetable stock, but I haven't gotten around to making any of that yet. The vegan stock cubes I've found are incredibly salty, which is why I halved the soy sauce from Vegan Dad's recipe. That, and the addition of the onion salt.

3. Add the olive oil, soy sauce, and grated garlic. Mix together with a fork, and add the nutritional yeast.

Incidentally, grating garlic is a bit of a pain, so feel free to use garlic puree.

Photographing yourself grating garlic is even more of a pain.

4. Add in the vital wheat gluten, and stir until it forms a dough. This dough should be firm, and not really sticky.

5.  Finally, add the seasonings. I used, as I mentioned above, onion salt, paprika, oregano, parsley, and sage, but it's up to you.

6.  Once the dough is completely mixed, separate and wrap in tin foil.  I made five fauxages, and two patties, since I wanted to try this seitan as a burger.  Steam for forty minutes.

If you only have a vegetable steamer, like I do, swap the layers around halfway through.

The fauxages can be eaten as they are after steaming, but you can also cook them further - grill or fry them crispy, for instance, or add to other recipes. They're pretty good all by themselves, though. I'm planning to use them as part of my full English project.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Apple Crumble and Philosophy of Cooking (pt 2)

I like cooking things from scratch, from base ingredients. And I prefer recipes that are designed to be vegan. I don't like the idea of using egg replacers in an omni recipe to make it vegan - I'd rather redesign it from scratch.

My apple crumble design isn't perfected yet, so I'm not tagging it as a recipe. All I did was, peel and cube an apple, and put it in a bowl, sprinkled with sugar. Then, I mixed some flour in another bowl with half as much sugar, or maybe just over. Added hazelnut oil, bit by bit, while doing that crumbling thing with my fingertips, until it went like breadcrumbs. Then, add in a handful of flaked almonds, give it a quick stir, and just bake it. I confess, I haven't done that bit yet - it's in the fridge, waiting for my appetite to come back. But, so far, the theory looks sound.

Speaking of my appetite; I'm sick, at the moment, as I've mentioned.  It's just a cold, and not so terrible as colds go.  I'm a bit tired and fuzzy-headed, and my throat feels grimy, but other than that, not so many symptoms.  Oh, and a fever.

The other day, my appetite was insane.  I ate the equivalent of four full meals after getting home in the evening.  The interesting thing was, I only craved vegan food.  When I was out, and I didn't have immediate access to my own kitchen, and I was starving and frustrated, I admit, it was tempting to just go "fuck it, give me that cheese sandwich".  But, no - there are always fruit cups, or apples, or chips, or something.  And at home, waiting for me, was a fridge full of leftovers from the other day, when I made vegan dad's sausages (hereby known as fauxages), which are delicious, vegetable soup, which reheats quite well, though god knows what that's done to the nutrients in it, baked beans, the homemade kind with the fried onions, and the rest of that delicious, delicious, cherry chocolate fudge cake.


I figured that since I was, y'know, sick, I should just give my body whatever it was telling me it needed.  Carbs, mostly.  Lots of bread, lots of pasta, lots of toast with baked beans.  Smoothies, too.  And peanuts, lots of peanuts.

I gained like four pounds that night (not even kidding).  I've since dropped them, over the last two days, when I felt less starving.  I still feel ill, but much better.  I hope I'm good by Friday - I start Argentine Tango lessons then.  Saturday, I'm meant to be organising a geocaching group around Birmingham.  Hell, Thursday, I'm in a pub quiz.  Working all week this week too.  I don't have time to be sick!

Sunday, 16 January 2011


I am dying of the snuffles.  Again.

I have to go to work tomorrow!

I was feeling some of the symptoms last night, before I knew I was sick.  I was tired, and kind of hungry, but kind of feeling ill, too.  I still made most of that three course meal I was working on, but lots of it ended up in the fridge, waiting for me to feel better.  I took pictures, and I'll post up recipes later.

Tonight, I tried Lauren Ulm's recipe for creamy pasta sauce.  It does taste quite cheesy.  I made a couple of changes; I doubled the lemon juice, since I was using bottled, not fresh, and grated the cloves of garlic.  I'm not sure about them - I'm thinking a garlic puree would have been better.  The lemon flavour is pretty strong, too, and I'm still not sure I like the nutritional yeast I have.  It came out pretty well, though.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Dry Skin

I've complained about my dry skin here before.  I'd considered B12 and protein in a vegan diet, but the idea of lacking enough good fats hadn't crossed my mind.  Not until my skin was so dry that the lady who threads my eyebrows just had to comment.  I'd already noticed, to be honest, it was getting painful.

I use the oil cleansing method, but I found that even the tiniest amount of castor oil in the mix left my skin so painfully dry that I'd end up slathering myself in olive oil just to get some relief.  Getting more fats into my diet (so far, in the form of salad dressings, brazil nuts, and scallops from the chippy - that is, deep-fried, battered potato.  This is not a healthy option, but it is yummy) helped a bit, but I was basically using water and a flannel for cleansing, which worked pretty well.  However, the plain water also left my skin dry, which, I'm told is because it can disturb the natural PH balance of your skin.  Even the water that gets on my skin from brushing my teeth is painfully drying.  Using the oils to moisturise helped, but it wasn't perfect.  By the way, my current mix is something like 5% castor oil, 70% olive oil, and 25% sunflower oil.

Last week, I tried an avocado face mask - one, ripe, mashed avocado, two tablespoons of golden syrup, and a dash of lemon juice - which was moisturising, but irritated my skin slightly. I think I may be sensitive to avocados.

Finally, yesterday, I tried Crunchie Betty's Winter Scrub, as a mask.  That stuff seriously does exactly what it says on the blogpost.  My skin is so soft and perfect, even the next day.

My face.  Yes, it is a bad picture.
Sadly, she's not shipping overseas any more, but she does post the recipe.  I'll have to make up some of my own when this lot runs out.  Also, yes, the bag was gorgeous, it had little glittery blue things on it.  I'm planning to do the whole mask thing once a week, see how that goes.

I seriously cannot stop stroking my face.

Oh, I also got some of The Body Shop's Aloe Calming Facial Cleanser, as a gift.  It's a cream cleanser - just massage on, and rinse off.  I'll try that for daily cleansing, see how that goes.

As I mentioned, I work in fast food.  I had a month off, and had great skin, then I went back, and, boom, breakout.  I don't even eat the food - I'd be limited to fries, and lettuce-tomato-cucumber sandwiches.  Which are okay, but I can spend ten minutes in the morning and make a better lunch than that.  It's the grease in the air, I swear to god.

So, I've been using Boot's Essentials Cucumber Cleansing wipes, on my break and after my shift, just to wipe away the grease, and stop it from sitting on my skin.  I think it's helping a bit.  They're not drying, and they're also really handy to have around, for instance, when I've been drinking and need to take my make-up off.  Cheap, too - I got them three for £3.  With those, I find I barely need to use the oils to put moisture back onto my skin.

My hair has been a little dry too, but not really so much.  I haven't used shampoo or conditioner since July, which is handy, since most conditioners - except, notably, for Lush's Veganese Conditioner - contain lanolin, which is basically sheep's sebum.  I'm not water-only yet - instead, I use a mixture of one cup of water with one tablespoon of baking soda to cleanse, and four tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to one cup of water to condition.  I have them in water bottles, you know the kind with the pull-up tops?  It works really well.  I use that every three or four days, more or less depending on how my hair feels.  I used them yesterday, and today my hair feels so soft and perfect.  It used to get quite tangled when I used shampoo and conditioner.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011


I really missed my first ex's cousins.  The eldest was twelve when I was fifteen, and he was such a sweet, sensible kid.  The other day, I was talking about him with someone (we were having a conversation about unusual names), and I decided to look for him on facebook - and there he was!

This is relevant far as I know, he doesn't know I'm a vegan.  So, I'm going to give him the second version of my Cherry Chocolate Fudge Cake, and see if he notices.  I bet not.

Yesterday, I had a go at making hash browns.  It went fine up until the frying bit, then it went weird.  I made three hash browns altogether, one with just salt and pepper, one with a bit of salad dressing (which was inspired, it had this delicious tang to it), and one with Garlic Italian seasoning on it, which you can't really taste so much.  Next time, I'll try nuking them with the deep fat fryer, instead of shallow frying.

For lunch at work yesterday I packed another bento.  It was pretty nice; I added a chopped tomato and half a lime to the salad, which tasted great.  Today, I think I'll get two tomatoes in there.  More seasoned peanuts for the protein content.  I seriously need to think of more protein sources, that don't require heating up.  I might try hazelnuts with walnut oil and cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar on them today.  I'll be more inventive with bentos when I have more time to think of stuff that can be eaten cold, or find a microwaveable box.

I tried like fifty times to get this image to upload the right way up.  It just doesn't.  It keeps rotating.  Sod it.

I'm meant to be making my first three course vegan dinner for the month on Saturday. It was originally supposed to be today, but I have to work. Then it was meant to be tomorrow, but I moved it. Then Friday, but I moved it again so I could go to the museum instead. So, Saturday. I'm thinking a basic menu (which I may have mentioned before) of vegetable soup with freshly baked bread, followed by vegan sausages and mashed potato, with a dash of salad dressing and some seasoning, along with fresh vegetables and a small salad. Then apple crumble with custard, and/or cherry chocolate fudge cake (I like saying that). I'm going for a very English winter theme, here. I'd like to do something Cajun or Japanese in future. Maybe next month.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Portion Sizes

One of my jobs is in a fast food place, and, as the lady who hands out balloons, I see a lot of people with their kids. Often, they are trying to get their children to finish their food, often with the promised reward of ice cream.

I'm not about to pretend that fast food is good for you. It should be a treat, if it's eaten at all. If your kid tells you they've had enough fat and sugar, for the love of god, don't bribe them with more if they finish the rest. Save those battles for when you want them to eat broccoli!

Sorry, went off on a tangent there.

Another interesting thing about fast food, or any prepared food, is the portion sizes. I was in a hotel in Liverpool last week (great trip, fantastic city), and the bowl of pasta they gave me...well, let's see, a portion of pasta is one cooked cup, about the size of a fist. This was easily three or four times that, with barely half to one cups of cooked vegetables served with it. I try to follow Canadian nutritional guidelines, and that's almost half my grain for the entire day.

Paperchase in Selfridges is stocking these!  They're children's bento boxes, and not suitable for microwaving, but they are cute.  Only about a 400ml capacity.  I'll be writing about them at the end of the post.:D
Fast food, too, has expanded their portion sizes by a lot. Almost all brands started with only one size of fries, and one or two drinks. Those were pretty good portion sizes, considering a portion of potato is about half a cup. The range of sizes expanded upwards, though, and now, a medium fries is easily two or three portions. Burgers, too - originally, a hamburger and small fries - a kid's meal, now - was considered perfectly adequate food for an adult. Large sizes are new and crazy.

We don't need that much food. Not at one meal, and often, not in one day. But, if anyone tried to sell us correct portion sizes, we'd feel short-changed. I think most people today don't have a natural idea of what a correct portion actually looks like.

I've been watching what I eat a lot recently, since, as you know, I've made some pretty big diet changes over the last few months. I was raised on chips (fries) at every meal, and very rarely ate vegetables. I wanted to use this opportunity, of becoming vegan, to go the whole hog (if you'll pardon the expression), and try to learn what a balanced diet with proper portions actually looks like. I've been constantly googling; how much is a portion of potato, of pasta, of salad, of bread? I have no clue, no mental image.

For the record; a portion of vegetables is about half a cup. Salad or other leafy things, is closer to one or two cups, depending on how densely you pack it. Fruit, one large, ie, a banana or apple, or two small, ie, a satsuma. Berries, something like seven larger berries (strawberries) or fourteen small ones (grapes). Raisins, only two tablespoons. Fruit juice, about 140ml, but you can only count it once a day, no matter how much you drink. Smoothies are more, since they include whole fruits, quite densely packed; you can get two for 250ml. Some of that info came from here, some from other sources. I try to aim for six-seven portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

For grain; a slice of bread is one. A cup of cooked pasta is one, or half dry weight. Bagels can be up to five portions, and you don't even want to know about subs and baguettes (eyeball it based on size).  And so on.  I'd list more examples, but the Canadian government nutrition sites have been down since Christmas.

I'm very much in favour of people learning about correct portion sizes (another point for my beloved Gizzi).  That's one thing I really like about bento boxes.

Incredibly simple bento - bread with vegan margarine, green salad, and peanuts for protein.  The little jar is salad dressing.

Bentos are Japanese lunches, packed in a certain way.  Normally, half grain, one third vegetables, and one sixth protein, packed without gaps.  Packed this way, the meal will usually average about the same number of calories as the millilitre count of the box, so usually 600ml boxes are used.

Bentos are designed to be attractive, as well as balanced.  Some are made into scenes, but simpler ones just include cute accessories and a variety of colours.

Mine comes together like that, see?

I want to get a microwaveable bento box, and recreate Wetherspoons sweet potato and chick pea curry.  That, with rice, and some other protein source would be nice in a bento.

Incidentally, you don't really need a special box.  Any tupperware container can be used; you can check the ml by filling it with water, and then measuring that with a measuring jug.  I just like my little characters.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Cake, Breakfast, and Pearl Tea

I made a cherry chocolate fudge cake last week.  It came out pretty good, but wasn't a shining paragon of deliciousness, so I'm going to make the recipe a couple more times before I post it.

It was basically a chocolate cake, with fudge icing (Betty Crocker's), and cherry jam sandwiching it together.  My ideas for improvements are as follows;

Firstly, use a different basic recipe for the cake.  I used Chloe Coscarelli's recipe for chocolate cupcakes, which did not translate amazingly well to a large round cake.  The middle was a little gooier than I'd like, which isn't a huge issue with vegan cooking (what, you're going to get salmonella off the cider vinegar?), but wasn't fantastic.  Cherry chocolate fudge cake should always be fantastic.  Next time, I'll try her Halloween cake recipe, which is actually designed for a layer cake.  Leaving the espresso out both times; I'm not a huge coffee fan.

As for the centre, I was thinking a fresh cherry compote instead of cherry jam.  Maybe with some vanilla butter icing in there, too.

Finally, for the chocolate fudge icing, I was thinking some kind of mixture of walnut oil, icing sugar, cocoa powder, and maybe some corn flour to thicken it up a little.  That's basically all that Betty Crocker's is, after all, only she uses plain vegetable oil.  Then decorate the top with (rice) milk and dark chocolate shavings, and dot with glacé cherries.

Now, back to my vegan breakfast idea.  I've settled on a shortlist of baked beans, mushrooms, toast, hash browns, grilled tomatoes, sausages, bacon, and hollandaise sauce.  All vegan, obviously.  For those recipes I don't follow to the letter, I'll post up my own versions.

I know hollandaise sauce isn't a normal inclusion, but I have my logic.  If I attempted to make eggs, they'd basically be fried tofu, either as tofu scramble or masquerading as egg whites.  The vegan bacon is already fried tofu, and people seem to agree that the runny egg yolk is the important part, and if I tried to mimic that, it would end up as a poor imitation.  So I'm hoping a vegan hollandaise can fulfil the same basic niche, and be good in its own right.  Worth a try, right?

I love making food from scratch.  I'm a little obsessed with that baked beans recipe at the moment because it is really, really good.  I haven't eaten baked beans from a tin since I was seven; they're unappetizing, and syrupy, and really not worth it.  Homemade baked beans, with fried onions and added deliciousness, on the other hand, are so flavourful, and yummy, and taste like real food.  I've never heard of anyone making their own baked beans before Gizzi did.

Incidentally, that's what I like about her show, Cook Yourself Thin.  It's not about the weight-loss, but the sheer inventiveness.  Gizzi uses fresh ingredients, cooks from scratch, and will often come up with something you'd probably never consider, like using a roasted sweet potato to add sweetness to brownies.  Plus, y'know, she's not mean to people, and she has a cool tattoo.  And she'll often cut down on the meat a bit, and pack in more fresh veggies, which makes it easier for me to cut out the meat altogether.

I have a bit of a chef-crush on her.

Mango Pearl Tea!

90p for 300g of tofu.  Bargain.
I picked up some tapioca balls from a supermarket in China town while I was buying tofu the other day, so I'm planning to make my own Pearl (bubble, boba...) Tea.  I happen to think 'pearl' is the prettiest name.

There are some recipes here.  I was thinking of making a mango pearl tea, with orange juice as the liquid.

Incidentally, you can also buy Pearl Tea from Caffe Chinno, in Chinatown in Birmingham.  It's right by the entrance from the Pershore Road, on the left, just a little way in, near the Day In supermarket pictured above.  It's quite nice in there.

I wonder where I can get the big straws from?

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Kali's New (Years) Project

My new years project; to create a full English vegan breakfast.

A full English is also known as a fry up, or as bacon and eggs, although I'll be leaving those ingredients out.  To be honest, when I hear full English, I don't think "bacon and eggs", although I gather I'm a bit weird in that.

Wikipedia lists several items it can include, many of which overlap - ie, potato cakes, hash browns, potato waffles, sautéed potatoes, chips, etc.  I'm not about to make all of them for one meal (and I'd be surprised if anyone were willing to eat that whole thing), so I basically need a short list.

Lots of pubs and cafés will sell all day breakfasts, which are basically a full English.  These vary from place to place.  Off the top of my head (since adobe is being a whiny little bitch, and won't let me view the menus right now), O'Neills, which is an Irish pub, serves theirs with soda bread and potato bread, but no hash browns.  Wetherspoons includes a fried egg, bacon, sausage, baked beans, hash browns, a flat mushroom and half a grilled tomato, but no kinds of bread or toast.

Personally, I don't think sweet ingredients - ie, scones, pancakes, or french toast - have a place in a full English.  When I travelled in the US, I remember noticing how much more sweet and savoury flavours seemed to be mixed.  For instance, our pancakes are more like European crepes, and are sweet, while our bread, as a rule, doesn't contain any kind of sweetener (my first US ham sandwich, back when I was an omni, was a very odd experience).  We wouldn't normally, for instance, eat ham with syrup, although, that said, I think we will sometimes glaze meat with honey.

I also don't think chips are breakfast, so I'll probably be going with hash browns.  I do love my hash browns.  I've never been a huge fan of fried eggs, but tofu scramble is always an option.  This bacon recipe looks interesting, I've already made baked beans, and these mushrooms look delicious (replace the crème fraiche and lemon juice with vegan sour cream, et voila).  I've also been planning on making Vegan Dad's sausages, and I love the look of Gizzi Erskine's sour dough bread griddle toast (see the mushroom recipe).  Since the baked beans include fresh tomatoes, it seems like overkill to include grilled tomatoes as well.

The baked beans I am snacking on while writing this.  Made with a fried onion, four whole tomatoes, garlic paste, tomato paste, brown sugar, vegetable stock, canellini beans and a pinch of thyme.  OMGSOGOOD.

I do want to focus on the English version, but I'm open to things from the other British variations.  I'm not about to try recreating black pudding or haggis though, interesting as the challenge might be.  I didn't eat those as an omni, I'm not going to start now.  Scots are weird.

While I'm making stuff from scratch and packing in the fresh veggies, I am also perfectly willing to fry the hell out of stuff (it's terribly easy not to get enough fat on a vegan diet). Apart from the things listed above, I'm easy.

So, my question is; what do other people consider to be quintessential to a full English breakfast?  Comment and tell me!  Don't worry about making it vegan, I'll do that bit.  Just whatever comes to mind.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Sautéing Vegetables and Cheat's Vegetable Soup

Firstly; sautéing is tricky. Or rather, it's deceptively simple. I'm not quite certain about the difference between sautéing and frying, to be quite honest.

That video helps a bit, but I'm still not positive I understand the difference.

Google to the rescue! Apparently, the difference is;

In shallow frying, the food is turned with a palette knife or egg slice; in sauteing, the pan - which is sometimes covered - is shaken so the food 'jumps' (the French verb sauter means to leap).

That link also tells us that the oil chosen lends its flavour to the finished product. Vegetable oils have very little flavour, but apparently olive oil will give a more distinctive taste.

Anyway; cheat's vegetable soup.


  • 1 Cup of Chopped Vegetables (I used Tesco's 'vegetable soup mix', which includes small pieces of carrot, leek, parsnip, and celery).
  • 1 Vegetable Stock Cube (Quixo's, from Aldi, are vegan, but are so, so salty.  Do not add salt, seriously.  I need to find another kind, or start making my own vegetable stock).
  • Oil, for sauteing.  I used vegetable oil this time.

1.  Sauté the vegetables in oil for a few minutes.  Go on, just slosh it on in there (incidentally, my skin is starting to respond to the treatment of adding oil to everything.  Joy!).  As the nice gentleman in the video says, the oil will reduce a fair amount.

I used a different pan so I could do a few vegetables at a time, in case it went wrong, but it would be a lot easier to use the same one.  However, that may be a bit heavy to keep in motion, so you'd have to use a spatula, which, technically, makes it shallow-frying, not sautéing.  The More You Know!

2.  Add 2-3 cups of water to the saucepan.  I'd go for two, it depends on liquidy you want it.  Remember that the water will reduce, and that you can always add more.

Bring to the boil, and add a stock cube.  Let simmer for 10-20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.

3.  Serve with bread.  And possibly fortified rice milk, if you've yet to hit your dairy substitutes for the day.

I'll post up a non-cheat's version when I feel like chopping my own vegetables and making my own stock, honest.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Seasoned Peanuts

Real quick.


Plain Peanuts (I bought mine from the Chinese supermarket)
Seasonings (I used a pre-mixed Garlic Italian herbs seasoning, and a bit of salt and pepper, but play around with it.)
A drizzle of oil (I used olive).

I made this as a snack, because I needed the fat and protein, and because plain peanuts are boring, while salted peanuts are too salty.  I eyeballed all the measurements, so have fun with it.

  1. Drizzle with olive oil.  Only like a teaspoon, or even half a teaspoon.
  2. Sprinkle with seasonings.  I used like half a tablespoon of the Garlic Italian herbs, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.
  3. Shake it like a polaroid picture.  (Pro-tip - put a piece of kitchen towel or some clingfilm or something over the top. Or, you could just shake it more carefully).
I'm tempted to try a version drizzled with hazelnut oil, and seasoned with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.  Maybe use actual hazelnuts for that?  Would be interesting.

If you smashed them up a bit first (pestle and morter, or plastic bag and rolling bin) you'd have a greater ratio of seasoning to peanuts.  Just a thought.  Get them too small, though, and the bits would be hard to eat.


This also works for popcorn, but that wouldn't have as much protein or fat.

Baked Beans on Toast

Having thought about what I said the other day, I decided to go ahead and make Gizzi's recipe for baked beans, with a few tweaks.  Some of those tweaks were to make it vegan, some were simply because Tescos is closed.

I've edited this recipe since it was first posted, as I've made it a few more times, and improved it slightly.


4 Tomatoes
1 Onion
1 tbsp Garlic Puree (you can also use garlic cloves, as per the original recipe).
1 tbsp Tomato Puree
1 Tin of Beans, approx 400g (I used butter beans, but Gizzi used cannellini.  My second version used cannellini, which were delicious, but it's entirely up to you.  You could try haricot or something else, even), drained.
1 tsp Brown Sugar (I used demerara).
200ml Vegetable Stock (I used one vegetable stock cube dissolved in 200ml of boiling water).
Olive Oil, for frying.

1. Chop the onion, and fry in the olive oil for 5-10 minutes, until soft and starting to brown. I used two tablespoons of olive oil, since my skin is still craving fat.

Yes.  Yes you are supposed to remove the dark outer-skin.
2. While the onions are frying, deseed and chop the tomatoes.

3. Make up the vegetable stock. I'm not going to make my own.  Two stock cubes in 200ml of boiling water is just fine.  One would probably be enough, really.  One stock cube in 200ml of boiling water.

4. When the onions are just starting to brown, add the following;

1 tbsp of Garlic Puree.

Sorry about the blur, I was just getting the hang of snapping shots of my own hands.

1 tsptbsp Tomato Puree.

1 tsp of Brown Sugar.

Then mix in the stock, and add the tomatoes.

This picture may or may not be upside down.  I blame the gin.
5. Mix it in, season to taste, and leave to simmer for about five minutes while you tidy up a bit.

6. Add the drained beans, and, again, leave to simmer for 5-10 minutes.

The sauce should thicken up at this point.  I suggest doing the washing up, and putting the toast on.

7.Buttering the toast is optional.  I did, with a dairy-free sunflower oil spread, since I'm still gagging for fat.

Wholegrain toast, natch.

8. When the beans seem done (really, tinned beans tend to be cooked beforehand, so you're just waiting for the sauce to thicken up, and the beans to take on some of the flavour), turn the heat off, plate up, and serve.

These are really flavourful.  I love the fried onions, and they lose that syrupy tomato sweetness that tinned baked beans have.  I did oversalt mine slightly, but they're still good.  There's also no reason why you couldn't add in some chopped mushrooms, putting them in with the onions right at the beginning.

You can generally count the beans as a portion of protein.  I do, anyway.  If you added pan-friend tofu "eggs", you could probably hit two portions, or at least one and a half.

I also count the whole lot as one portion of vegetables.  There's more than that in there, but I think the frying will take some of the nutrients out.

Yes, yes I am loving the camera function on my iPhone.

And here's a picture of the version I made with the revisions;

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