Saturday, 31 October 2009

MoFo finale - crumpety goodness

I can't believe MoFo is over! This month has been yet another reminder of the awesomeness of veganism and the vegan community. I've really enjoyed writing this, and I'm so glad I was convinced to start this blog and join in the MoFo. I actually did 31 posts! I'll definitely keep up with blogging, though probably not daily like the past month. I've also really enjoyed reading other people's posts, though admittedly I only read a few blogs. I might go back and catch up when I have some down time.

In my final MoFo post, I'll discuss the wonderment that is the crumpet. According to the source of all knowledge, aka Wikipedia, crumpets are actually Anglo-Saxon in origin. It's traditional British food! For those who've never had a crumpet, the greatness lies partially in simple breadly goodness, but also in what's not there - those holes in the surface that allow your toppings to ooze their way down through the entire crumpet. You end up with a bit of mess at times, but then you just mop it up with your crumpet!

I introduced my sister to crumpets when she was here for my wedding and graduation. She so desperately wanted to take some home that we tried to go to Tesco both the night before her flight, and around 6 AM the morning of her flight (which was only a few hours later). Sadly, they hadn't restocked. But she's since found crumpets at home, so I don't feel the need to send her boxes full of crumpets.

I may have mentioned this before, but crumpets are the perfect conveyance for almost any topping, sweet or savoury. I've eaten them with nothing but margarine, but they also taste great topped with golden syrup, maple cream, hummus, fake cheese spread - pretty much anything you might put on bread, but melty things are especially good.

Vegan Dad has a crumpet recipe. I haven't tried it yet, but I plan on making it soon (I even bought crumpet rings!).

For your delectation, here is a picture of some delicious crumpets with a touch of margarine and maple cream.

Jack is watching over my crumpets while holding some Yogi chai with soy milk. Mmm.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Cookbook challenge, week 10, day 6 - Get It Ripe

Yesterday, Mike came home from work and almost immediately asked me to make him some shortbread. My last attempt at shortbread was a bit of a failure. I tried to make millionaire shortbread, which has a layer of caramel, then a layer of chocolate, topping the shortbread layer. My shortbread was really crumbly, and I burned my caramel, which ended up tasting more like burnt toffee. It was kinda sad, yet still delicious. But this time, Mike just wanted straight-up shortbread - no frills.

So, as promised, I made the Shortbread Cookies from Get It Ripe.

I subbed margarine for coconut oil because I didn't have the patience to liquidize, measure, refrigerate, and then dice my coconut oil. I also threw some chocolate chips into half the batch. The flavour and texture of the shortbread is really nice.

I had a couple of problems with this recipe. First of all, the directions tell you to use a food processor, but my food processor is really only an attachment to my immersion blender, and it wasn't big enough to fit all the ingredients. So I bunged everything in a bowl and used the dough hooks on my hand mixer. The directions then tell you to turn out the mixture onto a clean surface and knead into a ball. The dough was so sticky that it stuck to the countertop. Once I got around to the rolling stage, it stuck to the rolling pin and the countertop, and it didn't want to come off the counter after I'd cut the cookies. I ended up having to roll and press each one by hand, which was annoying because I really wanted to use my forest animal cookie cutters.

Because I have a small oven and only one cookie sheet (right now), I had to do these in batches. I ended up making the first batch far too big, as you can see from the picture, but I still had to do 3 batches, so these took a really long time. I really don't know if I'd make these again, given all the problems I had and the time it took, even though they are really tasty.

I've finally uploaded pictures from the last couple of days, so I'll go back and add those to previous posts.

MoFail - projects and stuff I never got around to

This here is another catch-up post. I will get in 31.

I had lots of plans for this MoFo, my first but the third for a lot of other participants. Unfortunately, I'm just lazy, and I couldn't be bothered to do most of what I planned. Here are the things I never got around to:

1) A master index of all my recipes - The idea was to put all of my recipes (from cookbooks, blogs, etc.) into a spreadsheet, listing them for every ingredient they contain, so that if I needed to use up my hoisin sauce, I could just search 'hoisin' in my spreadsheet and find every recipe that contained it. There were two reasons I wanted to do this - first, I have a lot of cookbooks and bookmarked recipes, and it would be great to see at a glance what my options are to use up the spinach that's about to go off. The other is that some of my cookbooks don't have the best index, so even though I'm sure an ingredient is mentioned, they might not be listed under that ingredient because it's not a main component. Maybe I'll get around to this if I don't get a contract around Xmas.

2) Clean out and inventory my cupboards - I probably really should do this, especially after the lost cinnamon incident (I swear I bought a package of cinnamon, but I couldn't find it). The thing is, I know most of what's in my cupboards, and more importantly, where to find it. I don't need to be able to see the labels on my herbs and spices to know that the turmeric is against the left side, third from the front, and the thyme is just behind the paprika. But having an idea of what else is in there (so I don't buy and open another bag of pasta before finishing the last) would probably be a good thing.

3) Using stuff I never use - I've got so much cooking equipment. Probably not as much as some people, but I still have a ton. And some of it I never use. I've had my food mill for about a year now, and I think I've used it once (maybe twice). I've used my crepe pan once. I have cookie cutters and a springform pan that are still in their wrapping. I should really make use of this stuff, especially since I paid for most of it.

4) Monday Movie Night - This happened once. To be fair, this was mostly down to my friends not being able to turn up (when it did happen, only one person turned up). I would've liked to have done this more often, because I really enjoy cooking for a lot of people, but nothing much I could've done about it.

5) Make sushi - I bought all the stuff for it. My tempeh might end up going off (again) if I don't get around to it. But I just haven't done it. It's a bit daunting, I guess, but even if it isn't perfect, at least I would have tried.

Of course, there's still later today and tomorrow, so I might be able to do at least one of these things. I might do the sushi. Or maybe I'll make use of my forest animal cookie cutters when I make Mike's shortbread cookies.

I'll leave you with a link to a blog post I really liked about how much being vegan doesn't suck. I have to get ready to go do my volunteer thing, so I might elaborate on this in another catch-up post, but I just wanted to share it.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Cookbook challenge, week 10, day 5 - Get It Ripe

Tonight I made Pinto's Refried Bean Burritos from Get It Ripe (pictures to be added later).

I didn't mash the beans because I just couldn't be bothered (and Mike has issues with mashed things, I think). I had a layer of brown rice, a layer of beans, some shredded lettuce, and a few spoons of Alpro Soya plain yogurt. They were tasty enough, but just kinda meh. I dunno. My typical burrito usually has some kind of 'meat' (usually mince cooked with taco seasoning), but I didn't bother with that this time because, really, the beans and rice are enough protein. But it was just missing...something. I do have to say, though, that the beans took almost no time to make (well, if you're starting with cooked beans) - no more than 15 minutes. If you're in a huge hurry, you could do quinoa instead of rice and have a pretty decent meal in less than 20 minutes.

Mike came home and requested shortbread, so I think I'll be making the shortbread cookies from GIR tomorrow.

Catch-up post to kill time - the UK Vegan 100

Just read this over on efcliz's blog, Cooking the Vegan Books, and decided that I'll give it a shot. There are surely loads of things I haven't tried, but I'll probably get a little closer than the US-based version that has things like 'a bagel from [some bakery in NYC]'. Anyway, here we go:

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:
1) Copy this list into your own blog, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Post a comment here once you’ve finished and link your post back to this one.
5) Pass it on!

Hampshire watercress
Haggis (I've actually had vegan and regular haggis. I love haggis!)
Montezumas chocolate (at least, I'm pretty sure)
Melting mozarella Cheezly
Granose Mock Duck
Churros at Terre a Terre
Yorkshire pudding
Beans on toast (I need to have this more often)
Crumpets (with margarine, hummus, maple cream, golden syrup, White Bean Boursin from Ultimate Uncheese - they're the perfect conveyance for most toppings)
Mushy peas (unfortunately)
Aldi croissants (I didn't know you could get vegan croissants! Must go to Aldi.)
Bourbon biscuits
Holland and Barrett fruit flapjacks (no, only because I don't care for flapjacks)
Linda McCartney sausages and chips
Marmite on toast
Kent black cherries
Marmite breadsticks (not these, but I've had the Marmite rice cakes)
Sunday roast at The George
Anything at Birmingham’s curry mile
Rhubarb crumble with Swedish Glace
Paskin’s full breakfast
Jersey Royal potatoes swimming in butter
Evesham asparagus
Potato farls
Bubble and Squeak
Sticky toffee pudding
Irn Bru
Bacon buttie with tomato sauce
Marigold bouillon powder
Booja Booja truffles
Scones and jam
Bird’s custard (I honestly can't remember)
Anything at Dandelion and Burdock
White chocolate
A bought pizza with cheese in the UK
Hot cross buns (bought them for Mike, but I didn't eat them - I'm not keen on raisins/sultanas)
Staffordshire oatcakes
Bread and butter pudding
Summer pudding
Pickled onions
Potato from the Baked Potato Shop in Edinburgh (Almost without fail with margarine, salt, and baked beans)
Wetherspoons curry
Irish stew with dumplings
Mashed carrot and swede
Pease pudding
Christmas pudding
Blue Sheese
English muffins
Scotch broth
Walker’s prawn cocktail crisps
Mildred’s mushroom and ale pie (on my honeymoon!)
Masala dosa
Realeat fishcakes
Worcestershire sauce
Mushroom ketchup
Pickled walnuts (I'm allergic to walnuts!)
Anything at Vbites
Co-op donuts (far too often!)
Anything at Saf
Chip shop curry sauce and chips
Warehouse Café bangers and mash
Innocent Smoothie
Eccles cake
Semolina pudding with jam
Linda McCartney country pie
Scallop (potato fritter)
Elderflower cordial (homemade, actually, though not by me)
Spotted dick
Victoria plum
Marigold braised tofu (This is great sauteed with avocado and made into a sammich.)
Clive’s pie
Wagamama Yasai Chilli Men
Sarsaparilla (nothing like root beer!)
Spring cabbage
Holland and Barrett Porkless Pie
Henderson’s relish
Scottish raspberries
Fry’s Peppermint Cream
Roast parsnips
Booja Booja ice cream (no, but only because it's cashew-based)
Pimms (most unfortunately)
Rice pudding
Beef and Tomato Pot Noodle
Sesame Snaps

38 - not bad! There are a couple of things that are nut-based, so I can't try those. And then there are the regional things, like food at places in Brighton or London, etc., though I at least am privileged enough to have easy access to the Baked Potato Shop. (So good!) I had some of this stuff pregan, so that doesn't count (the non-vegan stuff, obviously). I think the Vegan 100 could be changed to fit any region (for instance, the original doesn't have anything about eating at, say, Spiral Diner, probably because it was written by someone from either Portland or NYC rather than someone from TX). Anyway, just a little time-waster to catch up on my posts. If I continue to post daily, and maybe do one or two more catch-ups, I'll have a post for every day of October!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Cookbook challenge, week 10, day 4 - Get It Ripe

I made two things from Get It Ripe today. There's no photo for the first, and I haven't uploaded the photo for the second.

I made the Carob Chai cake this morning. I didn't have enough time to make the cardamom icing, but it turned out more than fine without it. Also, I subbed out some of the oil with applesauce, and I replaced about 1/3 of the maple syrup with golden syrup because I couldn't justify using an ENTIRE CUP OF MAPLE SYRUP for one single-layer cake. Anyway, this cake was really, really nice. It was kinda like a mild gingerbread (minus the molasses), moister and fluffier and a little milder in flavour. It was actually perfect without frosting. The only thing keeping me from making this again is that massive amount of maple syrup. Maple syrup is pretty damn expensive, and 1 cup is nearly an entire bottle. I might try some other sweeteners to see if it works with something cheaper.

The other thing I made today, which I've actually made quite a few times but haven't made in at least 6 months, if not longer (I haven't made it once since we've been in this flat), was Andrew's Butternut Risotto.

I love this stuff. It takes quite a while, especially if you do what I did and use pearl barley because you can't be arsed to find short grain brown rice for one recipe. But it's worth the time spent, especially because you end up with a shit ton of leftovers. We had plenty with our dinner, and there's enough left over for several more meals.

We had the risotto with the Swiss Chard frittata from Vegan Brunch. I made two changes to the way I usually make it, and it made all the difference in the world. First, because I was roasting garlic for the risotto, I roasted an extra bulb and used that instead of the sliced garlic called for in the frittata recipe. Second, I cooked the frittata in the cast iron skillet that I used for cooking the chard. This was the best frittata I've ever eaten. Absolutely freaking delicious. From now on, I'll be throwing some roasted garlic in my frittatas as much as possible.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Cookbook challenge, week 10, day 3 - Get It Ripe

This week's cookbook challenge is Get It Ripe by jae steele, who I linked to in my last post (I think). I picked out far too many recipes to try, since I actually only have room in my menu plan for one or two more recipes from this book (apart from desserts). But I'll see how much I can get done. I meant to do this one yesterday, but I forgot to marinate my tofu in time, and I didn't want to wait an hour for it. Also, I don't think I had all the ingredients for it anyway.

So, tonight's dinner was Sesame Kale Soba with Asian Marinated Tofu (from V'con)

It was a bit wiggly getting it into the bowl, which is why it looks untidy.

I used a combination of green and purple kale, and I shallow fried the tofu in sesame oil because I felt that just kale and noodles wouldn't be substantial enough. Other than that, leaving off 1 tbsp of sesame oil, and forgetting the sesame seeds, I didn't make any alterations. This was really, really good and quite filling. And so quick! Ignoring the tofu (technically you could buy marinated tofu), this took about 15 minutes, maybe 20 with the kale cleaning. This is a great recipe for busy evenings, as long as you have all the ingredients (which is actually not as easy as it sounds, since I can usually only find kale once a week, at the Farmers' Market). And there were enough leftovers to have something for Mike to take for his lunch tomorrow.

I'll definitely keep this in mind the next time I need a quick meal and have kale that needs to be used up. But I think I'll try to remember the sesame seeds next time.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Movie night!

It was actually yesterday. My friend Ella came over and we watched Gigi while eating French food. It was pretty damn good, though the movie was a little bit creepier than I remembered (a man easily in his 60s singing 'Thank Heaven for Little Girls' - just a bit ooky).

We started with White Bean Boursin from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook by Jo Stepaniak eaten on baguettes from Sainsbury's (I forgot to take a picture of these). The reason I bought bread is because, when I started to make my bread, I realised I didn't have enough flour, and by that time, it was too late to buy flour and bake the bread. As a compromise, I bought the part-baked baguettes (which were the Basics range and only cost 39p for two - score!).

We then had the French Onion Soup Gruyére, also from Ultimate Uncheese

(Sorry about the quality. It gets dark around 4 PM these days, and I had a lot of stuff going on in the kitchen, so for all of these pictures, they won't be the best quality. It's not exactly the prettiest soup anyway.)

This was some good damn soup, and easy as hell to make. It requires very few ingredients and takes less than 30 minutes if you plan it right. We ate it with baguette yesterday, but I had leftovers with croutons this afternoon. It tastes good either way, though I think I preferred the baguette. Even Mike liked it, but then again, I didn't put any of the cheese in his. This is definitely going in my 'make again' memory file.

The main entree was Vegan Brunch omelets with roasted marinated asparagus (I couldn't be bothered getting out my grilling device) and Miso Tahini sauce (also VB)

I've had the VB omelets many times (and will again soon because there was half a tub of tofu left from these), and they're always delicious. I wasn't all that keen on the asparagus, though it was alright. And the sauce was really nice.

Dessert was a veganized version of this chocolate mousse recipe

I used GranoVita Soja Saane for the heavy cream and only added about 2 tbsp of sugar because the GranoVita stuff is already sweetened, and the chocolate had some sugar in it as well. This was super easy and really delicious. I ate way too much (neither Ella nor Mike could finish theirs, so I helped them out), but it was so good.

Overall, it was very successful, though I hesitate to call it a dinner party because only one person showed up and Mike was away until just before Ella had to leave. But at least the food was good.

This week's cookbook challenge is Get It Ripe by jae steele. I actually own this book, and there are a few things I never got around to making, so I'll be participating fully. Also, I've set myself a project to figure out some stuff to make for lunches, since I finally got a temp contract. It's only 4-6 weeks, but at least it's something, and hopefully it'll eventually lead to something permanent.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Farmers' Market and getting ready for tomorrow.

Another Saturday, another Farmers' Market post. Today I got a sack of tatties, some shrooms (which hopefully I'll actually use this time), some Swiss chard (frittata!), and kale from the organic farm, and another three bars - chili and coffee to send to a friend in TX, and winter spice for us - from The Chocolate Tree. It was sprinkly and chilly, and there weren't a lot of other stalls that I fancied (though the other farm stand had squash, but I just can't afford £2.50 per Kg), so it was a quick trip.

Tomorrow is movie night - French food and Gigi! I'm really excited. I've already made a White Bean Boursin from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook. Tomorrow I'll make a baguette from La Dolce Vegan to serve with it, as well as French onion soup (also from Ultimate Uncheese), omelets from Vegan Brunch, and something for dessert that I haven't quite decided on - maybe crepes, but I'm not sure I have that kind of patience or time. (Now I've got this song stuck in my head. And for you Buffy/Angel fans, yes, that's Wesley.)

Mike's off to Gamers from 11, so I'll have about 7-8 hours to clean the flat and get most of the rest of the food made. I hope I have enough time and energy to pull this off. And I hope no one bails, because I don't have room in my fridge for leftovers from more than one dish. I probably don't even have room for leftovers of one dish.

Friday, 23 October 2009

The impossible is now possible.

OK, maybe not impossible. I've blogged at least once about the V'con Chickpea Cutlets. They're possibly one of the greatest creations in food history - a quick, easy, relatively cheap, cruelty free meat substitute that tastes amazing. They're a combination of chickpeas, breadcrumbs, vital wheat gluten, water, herbs, and spices.

The way I do mine, I use my food processor to blend together everything but the breadcrumbs and vwg, and I always think, this is a lot like hummus. Well, I made hummus yesterday, and I made a lot - more than Mike and I could reasonably eat before it would need to be disposed of. Tonight, laziness and curiosity coalesced into an even faster and possibly lower-fat version of Chickpea Cutlets. I combined my homemade sun-dried tomato hummus with vwg and the V'con herbs and spices, and the results were positive. I give you:

Lower-Fat Hummus Cutlets

3/4 c prepared hummus (preferably homemade)
1/2-3/4 c vital wheat gluten
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp dried sage

Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Add additional vwg if your hummus is particularly liquidy. Knead for a few minutes until gluten strings form. Cut or tear apart and form into cutlets. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake 20-30 minutes, until golden brown. (Mine were slightly underdone at 20 minutes, so a bit longer should've done the trick.)

I don't really have a nutritional breakdown or comparison. I only assume these are slightly healthier because my particular homemade hummus was lower in fat than traditional hummus, and I left out the breadcrumbs (which can contribute significantly to both fat and carbohydrate counts). I guess you could add in some breadcrumbs to make them more stable, but even slightly underdone, mine were fine.

UPDATE: Here's the picture of the cutlets with boiled potatoes, steamed broccoli, and instant gravy

Thursday, 22 October 2009


Earlier this month, a vegan goodies swap was proposed on the PPK. This was the first time I had participated, since you have to have been registered and active for over a year (or have over 1000 posts). Anyway, I got my swap package from Mary (aka mittenmachen) today!

Clockwise from the top left - mint Newman-O's, seasoned popcorn, Chocolate Raspberry, Chai Tea, S'mores, Cookies & Cream, and Lemon Zest Luna bars, coffee extract, maple cream, and chocolate extract. I've already eaten the popcorn (which was yummy but is probably why I feel like my stomach is about to burst - popcorn doesn't like me as much as I like it) and the maple cream (delicious on crumpets, but not with Marmite - what was I thinking?!). Oh, and I've obviously had mint Newman-O's before, and they are wonderful. I might make mint cookies & cream cupcakes, or we might just eat them on their own.

I also tried to make hummus today. Well, it was supposed to be an approximation of the limited edition sun-dried tomato and basil stuff Tesco sold for a while. The problem came when I got out my basil, and it was a bit funky. So while my hummus is good, it's not as good as that stuff. I might give it another go some other time.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

I made you a muffin, but I eated it.

I mentioned yesterday that I made Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins (I only used 3/4 c of sugar, left out the soy yogurt (which isn't an ingredient in VwaV) and bunged in a 100g bag of Dairy Free chocolate chips), and that we ate the entire batch in less than 24 hours. I decided to make another batch, since we ate the last one so quickly that I didn't get to take a picture.

They're just that good. Unfortunately, I couldn't do a low-fat version because I hadn't made any more applesauce yet. It turns out that you really can tell the difference between low-fat and full-fat versions of this one. The full-fat muffins are more crumbly and slightly less moist, somehow even more delicious, and - bonus - the paper comes away from the muffin much more easily. But since I'm trying to at least keep off the weight I've already lost, this will have to be a one-off, unless I make them for the ceilidh or something.

Dinner was a cookbook challenge recipe - Red Lentil Pasta from La Dolce Vegan

(Sorry for the rubbish picture - it wouldn't have looked that great even if I hadn't already eaten some and taken the picture under bad lighting.)

I was not a fan of this. First of all, it gives the impression of coming together in about 15 minutes. Well, not if you want your onions translucent and your lentils cooked. I used some chopped tomatoes in their juices and (at least) an extra 1/4 c of water and cooked the lentils about twice as long as the recipe called for, and they still felt underdone. Even after I blended everything, I could still feel individual lentils. And they're red lentils - the kind that cook down into a paste! I don't know how that's even possible. Apart from that, the flavour was nothing special. I prefer the Punkin Pasta over this one.

I think most of the rest of the recipes I'm making from this book are desserts (because lord knows I need more desserts), so we'll see how those go.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

I'm cheating.

I totally forgot to do a blog post, so I'm changing the date and time in post options to make it look like I posted last night. Heh. This'll be a short one, and I'll do a decent post later. I'll also upload pictures to this one, since I don't feel like loading the one picture I took last night and then loading pics I might take tonight.

I made the mocha oatmeal yesterday. It was just alright. I don't really know what I would change about it - maybe I just don't like mocha oatmeal. I think I'll stick with other flavours. I still need to branch out a bit. I was gonna try pumpkin pie, but now that I've opened the pumpkin, I don't know if I want to make anything other than muffins. I made a batch last night, and they're already all gone. And there are just two of us to eat them! I'll be honest, I ate the vast majority. Mike had some last night and took a couple for his lunch today, but I ate the rest. That's how good they are!

Dinner was some delicious Potato and Asparagus Soup from VwaV.

I love this soup. In fact, I love almost every soup in that book (I say 'almost' because I've not tried all of them, but I love the ones I've tried).

About a month ago, we were in Aberdeen, and we got the most delicious hummus from Tesco (of all places) - sun-dried tomato and basil. It was a limited edition, and they're no longer offering it. So, I currently have chickpeas cooking and will try to make my own wonderful, slightly cheesy-tasting hummus later.

Also, all the stores are stocked with pumpkin, so I might buy one and see if it's cheaper to make my own pumpkin puree than buy the stuff in the jar. I could trek out to Lupe Pinto's in Tollcross to see if they have any of the imported Libby stuff, which will be a lot cheaper than the organic stuff in the jar. But if this year is anything like last year, they'll probably already be out.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Cookbook challenge, week 9, day 2 - La Dolce Vegan

I had oatmeal twice today. Breakfast was a quick and simple golden syrup oatmeal since I had to be at the Scottish Studies library at 11, and lunch was savoury oatmeal, similar to last night but with the addition of a few drops of liquid smoke. Since I don't have anywhere in particular to be tomorrow (just grocery shopping), I think I'm gonna try mocha.

Today was supposed to be Movie Monday, but only one of my friends could make it, so we ended up playing Settlers of Catan. We still had breakfast, which was two recipes for this week's cookbook challenge. The original challenge was for How It All Vegan by Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard. But we realised that not everyone had HIAV, but almost every challenge participant had at least one Sarah Kramer book, so we've decided that this week's challenge is just Sarah Kramer recipes (any recipe from HIAV, Garden of Vegan, or La Dolce Vegan). I have LDV, so that's what I'm using.

I feel like I'm now compelled to try every variety of tofu scramble I find, just to see if I like anything other than the spice combo in VwaV. So tonight's dinner was Sleepy Sunday Morning Scramble with Vegan "Sausage" Hash

(Sorry, it's not a very appealing picture. We were in the sitting room (bad lighting) and had already started eating when I remembered to take it.)

I used VB Italian feast sausages for the hash, and I only had a red onion, so that went into both recipes. Everyone liked the food. I still prefer Isa's scramble seasonings, but I liked the addition of Dijon mustard in this one. If I'd been at all prepared, the whole meal could've been ready in about 15 minutes, I imagine. My only complaint is that the hash recipe was very non-specific. It just says 'cook until done', without any real indication of what 'done' looks like. This doesn't seem to be the norm, though.

We've tentatively rescheduled movie night for Sunday. Mike won't be home, so we're gonna watch a movie he wouldn't want to see - Gigi! It's one of the classic MGM musicals from the 50s. So, we're gonna have French food and watch a musical about a French courtesan (essentially)! I'm not sure what to make, apart from Pain au Chocolat from VB, so if anyone has any suggestions, let me know!

Sunday, 18 October 2009


Mike and I went to Bonsai for lunch today. It's probably our favourite Edinburgh restaurant, so we go there as often as we can afford. They have a large enough selection of vegan items that we can get a few different things every time we go in, but since I'm the type of person who finds a favourite and sticks with it, I tend to always get the same thing.

Today I had the yakisoba, agedashi tofu, and inari nigiri sushi. I'm starting to really like getting the yakisoba, especially since they stopped doing the lunch specials and no longer serve the miso ramen bowl. The agedashi tofu is really tasty - fried tofu in a ginger and soy sauce - but I rarely get it because it's a pain to eat with chopsticks (the sauce makes the coating on the tofu mushy, and the tofu isn't really firm enough to hold up on its own). And I always, always, always get inari. I kinda treat it like dessert, not just because it's a little sweet, but also because I know I'm gonna love it, so I like to end my meal on a high note. Mike got the miso soup (as he does almost every time), teriyaki tofu, rice, and wasabi peas. I'm pretty sure he liked everything because he finished all of it (then ate the rest of my yakisoba), which is unusual. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures because I forgot my camera.

Mike had Gamers tonight, so I had savoury oatmeal for dinner. It was actually really good. I added 1/2 of a chopped up Vegan Brunch Italian feast sausage, about a tablespoon of nooch, about 1/8 tsp each garlic powder, onion powder, and salt, and a few grinds of the pepper mill. I only did half a bowl because I wasn't really sure how it would turn out, but I really liked it. But since I'd only done 1/2, I decided to make some chai latte oatmeal for dessert - cooked the oatmeal in about a cup of brewed rooibos chai and maybe 1/4-1/2 c soymilk, then added cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and clove. It's quite nice.

My movie for Movie Monday is gonna be the John Hughes classic, The Breakfast Club, with which I will be serving brunch (and possibly sushi, since Claire has sushi for lunch). We'll see. I have a really busy day tomorrow, so I might only be able to do the breakfasty things. I still haven't even decided on what to make. I should get crackalackin' on that.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Farmers' Market haul and new chocolate

Today's oatmeal was wonderfully simple - golden syrup and a dash of cinnamon. I usually like my oatmeal quite sweet and dessert-like, but I've been thinking about branching out. Interestingly enough, today I saw this thread on the PPK. I might try some savoury oatmeal for lunch sometime next week.

I finally managed to make it to the Farmers' Market with more than 20 minutes to spare before they packed up. Unfortunately, I didn't really get much - spinach, potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms. I normally wouldn't buy mushrooms, since Mike won't eat them, but I'm thinking about cooking a couple to throw in my calzone tomorrow.

Yesterday, I went to Real Foods and found this -

an Organica Swiss Chocolate Couverture bar - in the discount bin, at what I thought was half price, because it was broken. Mike really liked it, so he asked me to get another bar. Unfortunately, it turned out to have been much less than half price, because an undamaged bar was £2.39. That, to me, is a lot to pay for chocolate. Regardless, I bought that and a new (to me) flavour of Divine Chocolate -

Oh yes, chocolate makers are finally jumping on the chocolate and raspberry train. I saw a chocolate raspberry bar in Tesco a few months ago, but it wasn't vegan. But this is! The raspberry lends a slight tartness to a lovely, smooth dark chocolate, with a little bit of crunch due to the raspberry being freeze-dried. It's quite nice - something you eat one wee square at a time, very slowly, rather than scoffing it.

Next week's cookbook challenge is How It All Vegan, which I don't have. I went to look at a copy at Waterstone's today. I flipped through the whole thing, and there were a few recipes I would like to try, but I didn't buy it because it's in UK measures. I just can't get my head around weighing my ingredients. I might have to see if I can find a copy with US measures. I actually borrowed this book from a friend many years ago, but this was pregan and when I still didn't eat many vegetables, so I didn't get out of it what I could have. Now, though, it's a very basic book, very much meant for newbies, so I'm torn on whether or not I should buy it. I'll see what everyone else says about the recipes, and maybe try to get someone to send me a recipe in US measures to try out something new.

On a non-food related note, Mike was looking for things to watch on, and they had a show called 'Synth Britannia', looking at the history of synth-pop and early industrial music. It was as if someone at the BBC had said, 'What can we do to get Rachel to watch?' So we're trying to watch that now. It's making me happy.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Cookbook challenge, week 8, day 6 - Vegan Vittles

I'm just doing a short post today. Mike's watching a movie (on my computer), and I promised I'd be quick.

Today I made the Muffins That Taste Like Donuts

I have to say, these just don't taste like donuts. At all. They're good (and Mike said they look nice), but not 'taste like donuts' good. Even if I filled them with jam or cream, they still wouldn't even vaguely resemble donuts. Mike and I both liked them enough, though he thinks they're too cinnamon-y, and I don't think they have enough cinnamon. Next time, if I want donut-y flavour in a non-donut, I'll make the Jelly Donut Cupcakes in V'con. And if I want cinnamon muffins, I'll make my own recipe, which I actually prefer.

To be honest, I'm a bit disappointed with this book. The best recipe so far was a soup, and an easy one at that, something I probably could've come up with myself. I'm gonna try out the calzone dough tomorrow (I don't like the look of the filling in the book, so I'm gonna do VB Italian Feast sausages and spinach), and maybe I'll have another look through to see if there's anything else I might want to make, but I don't really see myself going back to this one all that often. I hate saying that about a vegan cookbook, especially one by a respected member of the community (she's been vegan a hell of a lot longer than I have), but I have so many cookbooks that have so many more excellent recipes (like one of her other ones, The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook).

Mike's sighing audibly and head-butting me (like Stampy from that one episode of the Simpsons), so I'll leave it at that for now, but I might come back and revise my thoughts on this.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Lazy day for cooking

Today's been a pretty lazy day for cooking. In fact, I don't think I turned on the stove at all. Everything we ate warm today was either from the toaster or the microwave - oatmeal (me) and crumpets (Mike) for breakfast, a tortilla with some of last night's pot roast for lunch, crumpets for a snack, and leftover soup for dinner.

I made some delicious apple pie oatmeal for breakfast - 1/2 c oats, 1 c water, microwave for about 4 1/2 minutes, then add a few shakes of cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg, a pinch of salt, brown sugar to taste, and 1 grated apple (peeled and cored). Nom. I might try to change that up a bit, maybe cook the apple in the brown sugar with a bit of margarine to make it kinda like a caramel apple.

Oh, I also made bread today, just a standard wholemeal loaf in the breadmaker. I like freshly baked bread, but I hate dealing with cutting it because none of my knives are really up to the task. Maybe that should be on my Xmas list this year.

I've decided to do a Movie Monday next week, but I'm not set on the movie, and therefore not sure about the menu. I'm leaning towards brunch and The Breakfast Club, but I'm not married to the idea. My only other idea is Gigi and French food, but I'm not sure I even have any idea what I could make that's French-ish, apart from the Pain au Chocolat in VB. I'll keep thinking about it.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Cookbook challenge, week 8, day 4 - Vegan Vittles

I missed out on my oatmeal this morning because I needed a quick breakfast, so I had my warm weather standard, generic Weetabix in soy yogurt. And then I ended up not getting ready in time to do what I had intended to do (go get passport-type photos done so I could send in my leave to remain paperwork), so I actually could've had my oatmeal. Oh well.

Anyway, I made another recipe from Vegan Vittles today. Tonight's dinner was Pot Roast with roasted potatoes and broccoli.

First of all, I should say that it didn't really taste anything like 'real' pot roast. Then again, I was never actually a fan of 'real' pot roast. Meh. This was alright. I mean, it was tasty enough. But given the amount of work and time that went into it (start to finish, it took about 2 hours, give or take a few minutes), it didn't really cut it for me. I prefer the flavour and texture of other varieties of seitan. Mike liked it, though, so that's good. I think I might change up some stuff to try to make it more 'beefy', but I'll probably stick to Joanna's Chicken-Style Seitan (which has been my favourite seitan since I started making it, even though it takes forever to make).

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Cookbook challenge, week 8, day 3 - Vegan Vittles

Today seemed like a particularly unproductive day. I had breakfast, then suddenly it was lunch time, and I hadn't done anything. Then, just as suddenly, it was 4.30 and I hadn't even showered. I kinda feel like crap about that. But I still managed to squeeze out two recipes from Vegan Vittles.

Before I get to those, today's oatmeal was Maple-Brown Sugar-Cinnamon. It was lovely. I hope to make apple pie oatmeal tomorrow. And when I bust in to my exorbitantly overpriced jar of pumpkin puree, I'll try to make pumpkin pie oatmeal. NOM! Now, on to the challenge.

Dinner was Creamy Kale and Potato Soup

This was really nice. I didn't really measure the veg, but it seemed to work out. I liked the simplicity of it - you basically just bung most of the ingredients in a pot and let it cook for 30 minutes, making it easy even for soup. It had a good flavour, kinda like liquidised colcannon (a dish of mashed potatoes and cabbage or kale). I'll keep this in reserve next time I buy kale and forget about it and need to use it up in a hurry.

I also made Grandmother's Spice Cake (frosted with maple frosting from VCTOTW)

(Sorry about the shadow - I'm trying to work on my food porn skills.)

This was alright. I have to say, though, I prefer the YRR spice cake. This one uses half a cup of maple syrup, making it pretty damn pricey. Also, it's a bit dry for my tastes. I like the hint of chocolate in it. I think I'll stick to Joanna's recipe and maybe throw some chocolate in the mix. The other thing I should mention - I hate to say it, but I don't think I'm all that keen on the maple frosting. It may have been my fault, but I'm sure I followed the directions, and it just tasted like maple-y butter. Admittedly, I didn't have any maple extract, so I doubled the vanilla, but that shouldn't have made that much difference. If anyone else has made this and had better results, let me know and help me figure out what I did wrong.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Cookbook challenge, week 8, day 2 - Vegan Vittles

This week's cookbook challenge is Vegan Vittles by Jo Stepaniak. I've got several recipes bookmarked for later in the week, but I only did one today. I have to say, though, that I'm still not quite sure about this book. I had to look through this one several times to find more than a handful of recipes I thought we might like. There's also a pretty big reliance on nuts (especially cashews and walnuts), which, when seen, puts me right off a recipe.

Anyway, tonight's dinner was Cauliflower Paprikash. It's not particularly photogenic.

First off, I should mention that I left out the mushrooms because Mike's a hater, and I did rice instead of noodles. Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly, using the low end of the paprika called for. Mike didn't like it, but he couldn't really put his finger on why. I thought it was alright, but a bit bland. We probably won't have it again. Oh well.

Hopefully other stuff I make this week will be better. I hate buying a cookbook and not using it.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Oatmeal revisited and snacking.

Further to yesterday's post about getting back on the oatmeal train, here's a (pretty crappy) picture of tonight's dinner, Mexican Hot Chocolate Oatmeal:

This was pretty easy - 1/2 c rolled oats, 1/2 c water, and 1/2 c chocolate soy milk microwaved for about 5 minutes (stirred a few times throughout to keep it from overflowing), then a drop of almond extract, about a teaspoon of cinnamon, a pinch of salt, and about a tablespoon of chocolate chips. I suppose I should've added a pinch of cayenne to give it heat, but I didn't feel like having spicy-hot oatmeal.

Something I realise every now and again is that we don't really have a lot of snacking options in the house. Usually, if we're hungry and in need of a small meal, I end up making pasta or something like that. We very rarely have something already prepared, something we can just pick up and eat (or at least, throw in the microwave for a few seconds and it's ready to eat).

I'm not really sure how to rectify this, apart from always having muffins on hand. You see, if I haven't mentioned it already, I have a lot of food allergies (peanuts, pine nuts, walnuts, cashews, dates, and a lot of raw stuff, including avocado), which makes buying pre-packaged snacks pretty difficult. Actually, the pre-packaged is easy enough, if I wanna buy crisps or Bourbon creams. But if I want something that doesn't have the calories and sodium of a full meal while still leaving me hungry, I need better options. So, if anyone has any suggestions (recipes are even more helpful), please let me know.

Saturday, 10 October 2009


Lots of people seem to be blogging about oatmeal. OK, I read two posts where it was mentioned. I used to eat oatmeal for breakfast every morning when it was cool, and then it got warm and I got busy (it's kinda time-consuming to make), so I started eating something different for breakfast. But this post reminded me of the deliciousness and versatility of oatmeal.

I made my standard oatmeal for breakfast this morning - oats (rolled, I think) microwaved in a mixture of soy milk and water, then a bit of molasses, maple syrup (to make up for the bitterness of the molasses), cinnamon, and ginger. Unfortunately, I followed the package directions for my porridge, forgetting that the preference here seems to be a lot more liquidy, and it took ages to cook out all the liquid. But now I know for next time. I think I'm gonna go back to porridge for breakfast, unless I need a quick breakfast.

I also just managed to make it to the Farmers' Market today. I really need to start getting out of the house earlier, because I only had 20 minutes to spare by the time I got there. I only got a few things this time, due to the lateness - kale and tatties from the organic farm, a bottle of red currant and raspberry wine from Cairn O' Mohr, and some chocolate from The Chocolate Tree (though I'm not gonna mention which types I bought because some of it was for my swap partner!).

Tomorrow is the start of week 8 (I think) of the cookbook challenge, and this time I actually have the book we're using! I really need to flip through that tomorrow and figure out what I'm gonna make.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

The healing power of delicious food.

I've been ill for the past few days, which has meant I haven't really felt like cooking much. Just over a year ago, that would've meant canned soup or something from a box, but now that I'm married and have someone else to feed, I have to actually make food most nights. I mean, Mike happily eats a lot of junk food, but I wouldn't feel right letting him have Pringles and bourbon creams for dinner. Again. (OK, that was Doritos with hummus and bourbon creams, but you get my point.) Problems arise when I not only don't feel like cooking, but we also have a nearly empty fridge. It's hard enough to want to cook when you're ill, but even more so when you have nothing to make.

I've been feeling better today, but I still didn't feel like going out, especially since Mike's been off. Unfortunately, we really didn't have anything to eat, so I had to go to the store. I didn't feel like making a lot of effort, so I bought organic baby new potatoes, broccoli, and a can of chickpeas (along with Mike's junk food). I boiled the potatoes and topped with margarine, a couple pinches of salt, and some salt-free all-purpose seasoning. I steamed the broccoli, made V'con Chickpea Cutlets with the chickpeas (and all the other stuff that goes in those), and mixed up some gravy granules with boiled water. Dinner was done in about 30 minutes. Perfect. This is pretty much my go-to meal when I don't feel like trying very hard or don't want to bother going any further than the Tesco on the corner for my ingredients (it's a tiny Tesco Express, and they don't really have much).

The great thing is that I felt so much better after eating it. It's amazing what a good meal (plus sitting around most of the day watching TV shows) can do for your health. I should do it more often.

Mike's back to work tomorrow, and I'm still waiting for a delivery, so I might actually get around to doing the cupboard project! Tomorrow would be ideal, since then I'd have an idea of what I have on hand so I'll know what to get at the Farmers' Market on Saturday. Also, next week's cookbook challenge book is Vegan Vittles, which I actually have, so I'll be incorporating that next week!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Stereo - Best Vegan Restaurant in Scotland

Not that it really has much competition.

Mike and I occasionally go to Glasgow because Edinburgh has no specifically vegan restaurants and few vegetarian restaurants, and the latter are either Indian (Mike doesn't really like it) or ridiculously expensive (and tend to have few vegan options, surprisingly). Glasgow has quite a few options for vegans and vegetarians, most of which I haven't been to. A few years ago, I quite liked Mono, but Mike and I went there for my birthday last year, and the experience was so bad that he refuses to go back. Same with the 13th Note (which is pretty much across the street). Anyway, when my sister was here for my wedding and graduation, we went on a day trip to Glasgow and had lunch at Stereo. We had really good service and excellent food. So when Mike got a gift voucher to Borders, which has a location in Glasgow but now Edinburgh, we decided to do lunch at Stereo.

Stereo is a bit out of the way, in that it's down an alley that doesn't look like you'd want to go down it. But it's a cute place, and it's got a pretty decent menu. We both actually had a hard time deciding what we wanted, which is unusual in that it was because we had so much rather than so little choice. It was a late lunch (we went to the cinema first), so the place was fairly busy, and there was only one person waiting on everyone. But we still got prompt service, and the food came out pretty quickly.

Mike had the roasted red pepper hummus with fresh-baked flat bread as his starter

and the Calzone with artichokes, tapenade, and [something I can't remember] for his main

I had the Patatas Bravas for a starter

and the Puttanesca Gnocchi for a main

The hummus was a bit thick, but the bread was good. Mike didn't like his calzone, but he'd never had artichokes before, and I kinda figured he wouldn't like the tapenade. I thought it was alright, but I didn't want to eat his food because I had my own, and mine was delicious. OK, the potatoes were a bit spicy, but the gnocchi was so good that I didn't want to stop eating even when I was full. But it worked out, because Mike ate all the potatoes (I had a couple) and most of his bread (with the sauce for the potatoes), and I ate most of my gnocchi.

My only complaint about Stereo is that they only have dessert specials (nothing set on the menu), and the only thing that appealed today was the brownie with ice cream, which I couldn't have because it contained nuts. Boo-urns! But at least now we have a place we know we can go back to, though I might actually try to remember some of the other places we've never been to for our next trip out there.