Sunday, 14 October 2007

Because Myspace hates me

I'll take this down again later...can't be bothered to explain....

Friday, 21 September 2007


As in blimey, I'm becoming a lazy blogger. I think there should be a website that names and shames bloggers who haven't posted for ages. I might make one myself...I'd probably forget to update it though!

So, into the murky depths of my camera I plunge...

We start today with some of the lunches I packed for myself recently, featuring my groovy little Japanese bento box (which bears the legend "Natural Leaf: I love natural blessing"). I like to incorporate leftovers from other meals (mainly to save time, as otherwise I am liable to go off on a little cooking spree before school and miss my bus) and I am *trying* to keep prep time under 20 mins (Ha).

Buckwheat pasta mixed with leftover ratatouille with little cut out stars of Lemon-Herb Tofu (I love this stuff), plus a nectarine, cherry tomatoes and steamed cabbage with black pepper.

Mini pan bagnat (yummy pressed sandwich, usually made with slightly stale bread, filled with all kinds of things and left to soak in its juices for a few hours) on a homemade kamut roll, nectarine and salad with mushrooms and tempeh.

Peanut butter, grated carrot and raisins on a homemade kamut roll, with dried figs (source of calcium, people!) and some cherry toms and cukes (getting too lazy to spell whole wrds nw). Plus a yummy apple (English apples kick other
nations' apples' butts).

Homemade hummus with cayenne, cherry toms, pepper and carrots sticks and a wholewheat pitta (not in the photo). I give Dreena Burton the full credit for helping me to finally make hummus that doesn't suck!

Had a "vegetable day" the other Sunday. One of those days I don't want pulses or tofu or anything protein-y, just veggies and grains. So I made the best lunch I've had for ages. I got a big field mushroom and roasted it with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, yellow cherry tomatoes (mmmm) and a whole load of garlic and thyme from the garden. Fab...

And all plated up, with Pie's latest crop of potatoes and some veggies.

Been watching a lot of food porn on the telly lately. My fave at the moment is Jamie (Oliver) at Home, in which he cooks vegetables from his incredible garden. The recipes are simple, but stunning and quite a lot are vegan or veganizable. We've already bought the book and I was really excited to try out the "Humble Home-cooked Beans". Here you can see the results. Unfortunatly they took forever to cook (I suspect because I used cannellini beans, although it said I could use them instead of the suggested borlotti beans) and never got really soft. The flavours were all there, though, and the roasted tomato bruschetta I improvised were delish, as the man himself would say.

Also on my telly has been Nigella Express. While I find her a bit annoying, her food is very nice. The pasta in this photo, with a side of Italian Tofu from Vegan With A Vengeance (which stuck to our rubbish griddle but was still yum) and broccolli, was inspired by something she made on her show this week. It's basically a speedy mushroom pasta with thyme, lemon, olive oil,mushrooms and parsley. My mum fried the mushrooms first instead of adding them raw like Nigella, because we only had oyster mushrooms, and I hate them raw. Too bitter for me! It was all dashed tasty.

Lastly, my favourite food: stir-fry. It's a shame it's the only food I can't make for myself (I always burn things, or add too much water). This one had loads of veggies and cashews with my homemade sauce (2 T shoyu, juice and zest of 1/2 a lime, 1-2 t tomato puree, 1-2 agave nectar and 1/4 t five-spice powder). I had it with brown basmati rice and it was scrummy.

I have to go now, as I'm dog tired and sense will soon making stop.


Friday, 7 September 2007

Been a while

Embarrassingly, it's been a whole two weeks since I last updated this blog! I was hoping I'd have a major backlog to wow you all with to make up for it, but alas, I've been fairly slack on that front as well. I'm back at school now (my last year!) so posts might be less frequent for a while when they start piling on the coursework. Never mind, quality not quantity I say...

We start today with a brilliant chance find! On the way to the supermarket (we missed the last farmer's market-boo! And we only have one or two a month- some of you bloggers in the USA seem to get one practically every day which makes me green with envy!) we passed a little stall someone had set up outside their house with squash, beans and courgettes from their garden, with a little honesty box so you could help yourself. They were still there coming back the other way and we picked up the beastie you see above.

My favourite way (in fact, in my humble opinion, the only way) to eat squash is roasted. So we did just that and tossed it with some pasta and a sage-y dressing my mum made (the sage was from our garden - the herbs at least are still going strong, unlike the courgettes and beans which succumbed to the bad weather. We still have hopes of harvesting some sweetcorn and butternut squash, though). Yummy! With roastey toastey pine nuts, natch, and some nutritional yeast which I ended up scraping off (I think my problem is it tastes too different to parmesan - I like it in cheese sauces and on soups but stay away from my pasta, please). Guess I'll have to experiment with making my own cheesy pasta sprinkles. The taste was between butternut squash and potatoes, which is a happy place to be.

I'm a big fan of Dreena Burton's Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies, so I decided to try another sweet recipe of hers: Banana Oat Bundles. They were so yummy and quick to make and tasted like rock cakes (which is a compliment if you don't know what rock cakes are - think sweet, crumbly scones with raisins that look like you splatted the batter on the baking sheet - which you do, funnily enough). Plus a great use of overripe bananas, which we always seem to have lying around.

I was looking through Vegan With a Vengeance and decided I need to cook from it more often! So many yummy recipes (although my version has a coupla errors - 250ml nutritional yeast?), so little time. I plumped for the Sweetcorn Chowder, thinking it would make a nice supper with leftovers for my dad who was getting home late. Tasty and smoky (although I would have loved more spice - left out the jalapenos as Pie is very anti-chillies), if a little sweet, though prehaps that was because I used sweetened soy milk.

Last night was easy (but tasty) meal night for me and Pie - baked potatoes done in the microwave (but also oven cooked - we have a magical oven that lets you do both at once) with Velvet Red Lentil Soup (which Pie spurned and had, gosh, cheese and ham instead) and guacamole for my baked potato (comes a close second to hummus). Served with some microwaved sweetcorn (which has been awesome this year) and red and yellow cherry tomatoes. I also had an itty-bitty Sojasun cherry soy yoghurt - makes me feel five again.

Tonight was pizza night! This time I went for some red pepper, canned artichoke hearts, courgettes, pine nuts and pesto. It was spiffing! There would be a picture but Blogger won't upload it. Never mind.

Lastly, I have a new love in my life: Booja Booja Stuff In A Tub. It was the first vegan ice "cream" I've ever eaten and I cannot see myself ever buying another brand. I tried the vanilla flavour and it was so deliciously pure-tasting and melting smooth it needed no adornment. It's also pretty healthy as it's made with cashew nuts and sweetened with agave nectar, so you needn't feel guilty about tucking in! It's also suitable for diabetics. Next the ginger flavour, or maple and pecan, or chocolate...

See you soon, by which time I will have eaten the entire tub in my sleep.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Unlucky for some...

My thirteenth post! Guess it really was unlucky, because I got interrupted halfway through posting, went to finish it just now and found that only the title had been saved. Oh well...

Porridge (oatmeal to all you lot across the Pond), with craisins (a.k.a dried cranberries, but I love saying that), walnuts and agave nectar. I must make this nearly everyday. It's my absolute favourite breakfast (pancakes not included): fast, cheap and easy. I jazz it up with lots of different toppings to stop it getting boring. Right now I like raisins, walnuts and maple syrup best of all. I use the recipe from Anthony Worrall Thompson's GI Diet, but I increase the quantity of oats slightly. I also add ground flaxseeds for omega-3 goodness.

Another old favourite, B'cous cous I Love You (such a cute name) from Vegan Eats and Treats. It's dead simple, you just make the cous cous and sauce (which I jazzed up a bit this time with some Morrocan-y spices - though I went a little heavy on the cinnamon) and whack it in the oven, best Jamie Oliver style. My tip is to toast the pine nuts first for more flavour. I wanted to add raisins, but my latent snacking (if I see raisins, I eat them) caught up with me and we didn't have any left. Serves me right...

To go with it I made a great chickpea salad based loosely on this one, with tomatoes, cucumber, grated carrot, spring onions and chickpeas (natch) dressed with pumpkin seed oil (I love this stuff. I will add it to anything) and red wine vinegar. It was super yummy and the leftovers were even better as a quick lunch after getting back from hospital (hormone tests, not fun). I threw in some avocado that was lying around as well, and made some ginger tea, which is my new obsession (I need caffeine-free drinks for in the evenings or I can't sleep). To serve 1, just grate a 2 cm chunk fresh root ginger, pack into an infuser ball (like a reusable teabag-from tea shops), place in a cup and pour on boiling water. Leave to infuse for a few minutes and drink. If you don't have an infuser ball, make in a teapot or just slice the ginger and place in your cup instead. You can sweeten it with agave or brown sugar if that's how you like your drinks.

Here's everything together on my plate. Mmmmm!

See you soon!

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Me again!

My second post of the day, in which I get down to some proper cooking, and also learn how to take pictures of food!

First thing I cooked on getting back (well, apart from some soup, but lentil and tomato soup in semi darkness ain't that pretty) was a delicious and amazing recipe I'm sure many of you know well: Dreena Burton's Lemon-Herb Tofu. So easy! You don't even have to press it (although I did as my tofu turned out to be quite watery) or marinade, just mixed it all together and whack it in the oven. It's even better cold, mashed up with vegan mayo (I use GranoVita Mayola, the one with added flax oil) and made into sarnies on wholewheat bread with sliced cucumber. Way, way, waaaay better than tuna ever tasted back in my omni days!

We came back with piles of beans and courgettes that family members had foisted upon us, only to find our own veg patch dripping with beans and two oversized courgettes (or "more-gettes" as we call them when they get this big) our neighbours had picked for us waiting in the fridge. Although I didn't see any beans when I went out there at first. Then Mum went out and came back with armfuls of the things. What's wrong with me? I must have some weird bean blindness. We griddled some of the courgettes to have with Sunday lunch. It actually seems to work better with big courgettes than those tiny ones, because you can discard the spongy centres and still have plenty left to work with.

Here's my plate from Sunday, with the tofu, courgettes, beans (we are going to be living on green beans for the next coupla weeks!), roasted potatoes and carrots.

The apple season has started! As usually it kicks off with one of my faves. Discovery. These small, sweet-tart rosy pink apples are around until about October (I think- damn me trying to sound wise!).

Monday evening I decided to cook this yummy quinoa paella from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen (sorry Susan - I did add a little bit of olive oil to it!). It was super (although I'll eat nearly anything with artichokes in), although the kidney beans didn't go down too well with Pie. She made a valiant effort to eat the rest, though. We had some yummy sweetcorn on the side.

In an effort to break out of my hummus box, I tried the "Butter Bean and Pumpkin Seed Dip" from Vegan: Over 90 Mouthwatering Recipes. It wasn't quite as good as I'd hoped it would be - it had a weird, sour aftertaste which was a pity as it was otherwise really quite tasty.

From the same cookbook I made the "Spicy Avocado Toast" (the fact I down have a picture is testimony to how yummy it is - looks like I'll have to cook it again. Damn!) and also the "Broccoli and Peanut Soup", which was a great excuse to buy some oat milk, which I adore. I almost couldn't make this due to chronic broccoli shortages (Panic! Tee hee.) because of the recent flood, but I found some in Waitrose and all was well. It was vaguely reminiscent of Stilton and broccoli soup texture-wise and quite weird, but not in a bad way.

And now to the photography! I'd been reading the notes on taking pictures of food on Fat Free Vegan Kitchen (where the photos are so awesome I feel quite embarassed when I see my own) and, having prepped dinner and being at a loose end, decided to have a go! I got some good light (it was dark but we have spotlights in our kitchen which worked great), stuck the camera in macro mode, got up close and personal with the cherry tomatoes, and much to my surpise it worked! So I photographed the pasta...

And some frozen peas...

And then Pie took this picture, which may be the only time in my life I've ever wanted to eat recycling (OK, slight exaggeration).

So finally dinner was ready...

EXTREME CLOSE UP! (If you haven't seen Wayne's World then go rent it immediately.)

Buckwheat fusilli with tofu, cherry tomatoes, and spinach with garlic, balsamic vinegar and tamari. Edit: I adapted it from this recipe (Check out Vegan Cooking! It's never failed me yet). It looks yummy, but I vinegared my nose by accident and couldn't smell very much, so it tasted a bit bland. My mum assures me it was good, though.

In other new, I have a new fish. We call him Comet after this guy (scroll down) and also because he whizzes about!
Edit: Here's a picture!

See you all later!

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Holiday random cuteness

Well, as you heard in my last post I'm back from my holidays! They were great! I spent a week on a canal boat, on which we were originally planning to go to Bristol, but seriously, you ever been on a canal? Well it's slow. I mean really slow. So we just went a little beyond Bath, which is a beautiful town on the banks of the River Avon. I had some really cool meals out there. Three restaurants I'll mention in particular.

Yum-Yum Thai has a number of dishes that are either veggie or can be made veggie if you prefer. All their food is MSG-free, their chicken is free-range (even though I'd never eat anything from an animal, I like to see people show a bit of interest in how their meat is raised) and they have a selection of organic wines. You can eat in or take away. I chose the (veganized) Pat Thai Kung (which usually has prawns). It was delicious, with cashews and yummy veg including dried turnip, which I'd never eaten before. The fried tofu was a bit chewier than I would have liked, but otherwise it was fab, especially garnished with chilli flakes and salty peanuts.

Sadly, we couldn't get a table at Demuth's, a legendary but pricey vegetarian/vegan restaurant, at a time that suited us. I actually cried, looking at delicious-sounding dishes on the menu like dark chocolate fudge cake and black rice pudding (OK, I was mainly focusing on the puddings here) and knowing they were so near, yet so far.

So instead we went that night to Pasta Galore, which despite what the name might suggest, is a bona fide little Italian restaurant, where you can order freshly made pasta (egg pasta, alas!) and pizza, as well as risottos and other delicious things. If you go there, it looks kinda seedy on the outside, but please, please, go in and give these lovely people a chance! You won't regret it. I went for the "make your own pizza" option, with artichokes, pepper, olives, chilli and basil which I didn't want, but Mum hijacked my order. I also got dessert! If you are vegan you'll know this is no small thing. Mango and passionfruit sorbet, mmmm! This place had a wonderful atmosphere and really lovely staff. The chef did have to stick his head out to see what this strange vegan creature looked like. He looked disappointed at the total lack of tentacles!

To quote Don't Eat Off The Sidewalk, if you have managed to read through all that, here's your reward!

The love of Pie's life, Comet the Alpaca. We were meant to go llama trekking while staying with my aunt in Dorset for the other week of the holiday (the people who run the treks also have two alpacas and a guanaco) but the foot and mouth meant they had to stay on the farm, so we had some "touchy-feely time". They really are beautiful creatures.

Well, I'm going to do another post straight after this, seeing as this post will get too long if I include stuff I've done after I got back.

Bye (but not for long)

Sunday, 19 August 2007

I'm Back!

Did you miss me? Nothing really to post foodwise, just letting you know I'm still here! I've just returned from holiday (food highlights and vegan eats in Bath to follow), so I'm getting sorted out still, but I hope to be up and blogging within the next few days. I also now have access to a decent camera (at last!) so I can now be all creative and artistic with my shots of the food, knowing it isn't going to end up as a terrible blur.

Also, I just wanted to say a great big thanks and good luck to Jennifer McCann of Vegan Lunch Box, who is retiring from the blogging scene, for the moment at least, though I hope we hear from her again someday. It's probably true that had I not stumbled across her wonderful blog five or so months ago, looking for lunchbox ideas, I would never have been inspired to go vegan myself. It's been one of my favourite blogs and I'll really miss her posts. I wanted to leave a message on the blog itself, but Blogger was being stupid, so I'm writing this in the hope she sees it.

Finally, a fond farewell to Daisy the goldfish. Goodbye, little friend.

See you soon!