Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Food, glorious food....

I've gone vegan since my last post!

I went down to my health food shop for some supplies- I'm going on holiday next week and needed some stuff for easy meals (we'll be on a canal boat, then at my aunt's house in Dorset). One of the guys who works there is vegan and he was so helpful, especially when I asked his advice on a calcium supplement.

I got some flavoured tofu (basil, spicy and sunflower seed/herbs), vegan mayonnaise, margarine, tempeh, a new soymilk to try and some energy bars for emergency meals.

These look really good. They're all-natural, mostly raw and full of good things. The base is almond butter so I think they'll be yummy. There's also an omega 3 bar, a chocolate one and one with "living greens" (didn't fancy that one, strangely).

I know I promised you sweet vegan cookie action, but I forgot to take pictures of these. This is the last lonely one, They are Dreena Burton's Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies. GO MAKE THEM! NOW!

On Sunday nights I make myself a little bowl of soup. This one was carrot and butter bean with garlic and rosemary (from the garden), It was damn tasty! I had some oat and pumpkin seed Ryvita, which I hadn't tried before and I love. I spread on some marmite after I took the photo.

A simple but tasty bean salad for me last night. After I took the photo Emily decided she wanted pine nuts so I toasted some quickly. Yum!

We interrupt the food porn to bring you some adorable cuteness! These gorgeous girls are Cairn terriers who belong to two of Pie's friends. The big one in front is Trudi, and the little fairy dog peeking round the side is Fig (cute name, right?). They came to ask Pie out on a walk and I couldn't resist grabbing my camera.

Still can't convince my parents to let me have a dog though....Much as I love my goldfish Brian and Daisy, they're not very cuddly.

Pie has been growing potatoes! She harvested earlies a couple of weeks ago, and these are the second harvest. There truly is nothing in the world like the taste of homegrown potatoes.

This was an attempt at a tofu "steak and onions". I marinated pressed firm tofu in vegan worcester sauce, tomato puree, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and dijon mustard, and cooked them up with some caramelized onions (fry onions in olive oil with brown sugar until sticky and yummy) and some mushroom stock (Kallo Organic, the best stock cubes ever). Served with my grandpa's homemade oven chips, purple cabbage and peas. Pretty good.

Sunday lunch was a simple baked portabella mushroom with garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, crushed chilli and dried oregano. Some of our homegrown potatoes (roasted in olive oil-new potatoes are very different to large potatoes when roasted. They become chewy and fragrant rather than crispy and fluffy) and courgettes served alongside with some runner beans and cauliflower.

Pie made some stuffed peppers for dinner tonight. They were super yum as usual! I made some tomato sauce and maple-roasted cauliflower to go with it. I had a huge pile of spinach with mine as well.

Lastly, never, never put frozen mango into a smoothie without some fresh fruit as well. You will be very, very sorry.


Friday, 27 July 2007

Absence makes the heart grow fonder...

I'm afraid this post is just going to be an edited hightlights of the last two weeks' food, as I have been a bit slack photographing and posting of late. My computer went funny, one thing led to another and I almost fell off the blogging wagon. But today I was doing my usual food porn thing, looking through food blogs and trying not to lick the screen (although I was sorely tempted), and I thought, NO! I must blog! School's out now (yesss!!!) so hopefully I'm gonna be blogging a lot more from now on. Sooooooo....

My sister was away last week, and my dad was at work, so I got to cook all sorts of good things for me and my mum. Monday I chucked together some roasted ratatouille pasta, which was goood. So good in fact, I feel a recipe coming on...

Roasted Ratatouille Pasta (serves 2)


6oz/175g pasta of your choice, fusilli loves chunky sauces though (use more if you're hungry, there'll still be plenty o' sauce)

Just over half a 400g/15oz tin of tomatoes in juice (tomato juice, mind, not pineapple or apple and mango)
Dried oregano
A couple of sprigs fresh thyme, picked from your garden mere moments before
1 tbsp Tomato puree
Pinch brown sugar
S&P (salt and pepper, if you don't do acronyms)
Splash balsamic vinegar
Olive oil

Half a medium aubergine (eggplant)
2 small courgettes (zucchini), snaffled from your sister's veg patch (ssshhh!)
Small yellow pepper (bell pepper)
Largish red onion
2-4 cloves garlic, plus 1 extra clove


1. Preheat oven to 190C/375F, Chop all the veg into medium chunks. Bash the garlic cloves. Chuck in a roasting tin with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and seasoning. Place in oven and roast for about 20-30 minutes until slightly crinkly and yummy.
2. Crush the remaining clove of garlic and fry briefly in 1-2 tsp olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and simmer until you have a thickish sauce. Season to taste.
3. Cook the pasta according to pack instructions and drain. Stir the the cooked veggies through the sauce and toss with the drained pasta. Eat.

Teriyaki tofu stirfry with a load of veggies (I was cleaning out the fridge). I just marinade pressed firm tofu in some yummy organic teriyaki sauce I scored at Waitrose, which I sweetened with a little maple syrup ( I don't eat honey anymore-like it just fine, hate how it's produced). Served over brown rice. MMMM.

It's not often that I cook elegant meals, as I'm more a big bowls of pasta and soup gal. So this was fun. Mum and I bought a load of stuff from the market/M&S (beets, peaches, tomatoes, leaves), and made a "salad bar at home". There's a raw beet/carrot salad with spices fried in oil and tipped over, with a squeeze of lime, a peach and pistachio nut quinoa salad with lime and mint, and some mixed leaves (chard, spinach, little gem lettuce). Plus feta cheese which I nibbled some bits of (I can only eat cheese in nibbles, unless it's on pizza. It's too strong and salty for me) and cherry tomatoes (piccolo, my favourite).

Here's my plate, although in hindsight I should have photographed my mum's (she always arranges hers much more prettily than I do mine, for some reason). So light, tasty and beautiful, perfect on the first summery evening for what seems like years.

It was fun cooking for my mum all week. She and my dad are really supportive about my vegeatarianism and always willing to try new foods and flavours. Last Saturday we had sticky balsamic chicken/tofu and dad asked for tofu instead. That was pretty cool, except I made nowhere near enough for him!

So see you all soon. I'm think gonna put on the chef's hat that Pie brought me from Italy (it has my name embroidered on it and it's so cool!) and bake some vegan cookies (vegan baking rules, even though I'm not fully vegan yet) this weekend. I'll post some pictures (taken with a good camera, promise) so that you too can lick your screen.


Sunday, 15 July 2007

I woke up on Friday morning wih only one thing on my mind...the bread from Thursday. Oh that bread! Crazy good stone-baked spelt goodness from Waitrose (I'd love to say it was from some artisan bakery where everyone knows my name...but it wasn't). There was still a bit left and I decided the time had come for a TLT (tofu, lettuce and tomato, if you hadn't worked that one out)!

I made my favourite tofu "chicken" to go in it. It doesn't taste very much like real chicken, but it's very tasty and has a lovely "chewy" texture, and it really hits the spot. It's good cold, in fact better than hot, and can be used instead of chicken in salads, sandwiches or whatever. The recipe is fairly vague:

Get some tofu and slice it however you want, depending what you're planning to do with it. Heat some olive oil in a pan and get it frying. When lightly browned, add some soy sauce and toss until the tofu is coated and slightly sticky. Brown a bit more, then add enough nutritional yeast to coat the tofu slices. Cook for a couple of minutes, then remove from the pan and eat hot or cold.

So, the tofu was sorted. But, DISASTER! No lettuce. And only watery tomatoes that would make my sandwich soggy come lunchtime. So I played a sub and added some baby spinach, which worked OK, although my TLT will have to wait. Ah, sweet sandwichy love...

Normally in my house we have homemade pizza on a Friday, and then one Saturday nights my mum and I knock up a batch of homemade tortillas, and serve them up with my special refried beans (recipe soon), chicken for the meat-eaters , pepper, lettuce (iceberg...yes, I know it has like zero nutrients, but nothing else crunches so well), avocado and cheese. But this Friday my mum was going out and couldn't make the pizza dough, so we switched around. She left us some tortillas and me, Dad and Pie had burritos for tea. Above is mine, with the beans hidden by the salad (they're in there somewhere, promise!). It was good, but somehow not quite right eating them on a Friday.

So having packed Pie off to Tuscany (Wind Band "Tour", if a nice week in the sun in the same hotel with a couple of concerts here and there can be called a tour), we had some pizza. Usually I have pine nuts and goat's cheese with basil, but this time I decided to ring the changes with marinated/grilled artichoke hearts, black olive tapenade and and pine nuts (hey, I like them). It was almost a disaster as I somehow managed to set the oven 100 degrees lower than it needed to be and we only discovered after we'd put them in, which meant they'd risen again. They weren't as thin and crispy as normal, but so yummy we didn't really care. I made the Pizza sauce from Vegan with a Vengeance and it was really, really good. I used fresh instead of dried thyme as we had so much in the garden and our dried thyme had gone off.

Here's a groovy find from the market in Cambridge. It's a pointed purple cabbage! Way more purple in real life. It turned the water we steamed it over green! Turquoise green! Interesting flavour, closer to brussels sprouts and something else I can't put my finger on.

Totally vegetarian Sunday lunch for everyone (yay!). MMMM. Aubergines stuffed with lentils and mushrooms from The Bean Book by Rose Elliot, Maple-Mustard Potatoes and String Beans (we used runner beans) from VWAV (OH. MY. GOD. I spent a large part of the afternoon licking the dish they were cooked in), with tomato sauce, cabbage and cauliflower. Doesn't it look pretty?
And so to bed. See you next time!

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Little Tiny Post

Just a short post, as I have had a long and tedious day at the mercy of our wonderful NHS. Meh. Maybe I'll tell you about it some other time.
When we finally got out of there (my appointment was 10 o' clock and we didn't leave till 12. I ended up missing a whole day of school, as I'd planned to have an early lunch at home and then go in for Art. Grrr! At least I got a lie-in), we went home via Waitrose and picked up some lovely bread (oh, the bread!), vegetable juice and tinned aduki beans...and made...this yummy and fab bean stew.

Here's the brief recipe:

Zoomy Bean Stew

Serves 2

About half a 400g tin chopped tomatoes
About 200ml vegetable juice (a nice thick, smoothie-ish one-you can replace this with veggie stock and use more tomato)
400g tin aduki beans (or whatever you fancy bean-wise), drained and rinsed
1 white onion (or red, or yellow...), chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
Veggie Worcestershire sauce (now this really is essential. No substitutions!)
Dried mixed herbs
Fresh or dried basil (or oregano)
Olive oil (or anything else, provided you can fry stuff in it)

Fry the onion and celery in the oil in a large saucepan until soft. Add the tomatoes and some veggie juice. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and let it all cook down a bit till it's all yummy and rich. Add the beans and simmer a bit more, then season with herbs, salt, pepper, paprika, and whatever you like, plus a generous amount of Worcester sauce, and then some. Ladle into bowls and eat with some ludicrously good bread.

Dinner. Black bean burger with loads of steamed veggies, with homemade oven chips trying to bask in their healthy glow. Plus a little tomatoey dip for the chips:

2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp maple syrup
1-2 tsp cider vinegar

Mix together and serve. Feel free to adjust the sweet/sour balance to your taste. I personally think sour is better.
I liked the burger, which was cobbled together from a load of different recipes. It has black beans, sunflower seeds, cashews, oatmeal and a load of spices. Only halfway through cooking I realise it was going to be all mushy because I'd made it too thick, so I cut it in quarters. Wasn't planning to eat it in a bun so not a problem.
It turned out pretty good.
Pie grew two more courgettes but they're in my tummy, so no pictures I'm afraid.
Sorry for the sad lack of excitement today. I promise to make up for it next time.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

I promised you a marrow...and here it is. A great big organic lovely marrow from Sainsbury's, of all places. Well, we couldn't not buy it, could we? You know you want some...

For those of you going "Ewwww! Marrow!" I promise you it's yummy and scrummy roasted and in soups. Buy it! Or we risk losing vegetables that are part of Britain's food heritage. It was reported recently that shops were considering not stocking cauliflower because no one was buying it. Same to marmalade. Vote with your fork and fight back, I say, before it's all eerily perfect apples, shrivelled blueberries and Kenyan string beans (so called because they actually taste like string 0_o).
I used some of this marrow in a split pea and broccoli soup. It was pretty darn good.

More soup...but cold. Beatin' the heat with a not quite authentico, but quick and simple gazpacho for my afternoon snack. So refreshing and yummy. Here's the recipe:

Cheaty Gazpacho (Chilled Tomato Soup)

Serves 2

400g tin chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
1/2 a red pepper
About 1/4 of a smallish cucumber
1 tbsp olive oil
1-1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp tomato puree (optional but makes it more tomatoey)
Chopped mint, chives or basil, to garnish (optional)

Chill all the ingredients in the fridge for a good couple of hours. Stick some soup bowls in the freezer (this helps it all stay cool-tepid gazpacho is a friend to no-one).
Whizz all the ingredients in a blender (briefly mind, or it'll go a bit frothy), adjust seasoning and serve, sprinkled with your choice of herbs.
You can serve this with some little cubes of fried bread, or some wedges of hard-boiled egg, or Spanish olives, or whatever you fancy.
If you want to put ice cubes in, like I did, I suggest you use those plastic ones with gel inside. You can get loads of cute shapes, and they don't dilute the soup, which is what happened to mine and I had to fish them out (I loathe thin soup).
You can also make this ahead and leave it in your fridge. Enjoy!

Dinner yesterday. A pretty simple supper of cous cous and veggies roasted with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (marrow!, courgette, aubergine, pepper, carrots and cauliflower). I chucked some chickpeas in mine and Pie and my mum had grilled haloumi cheese. I toasted almonds but ate them all beforehand out of hunger (it was a late supper)! Roasted was definitely a winner. Sweeter than courgette and yummy, yummy, yummy!

Dinner tonight. A jacket potato with cherry tomatoes and tofu "ricotta" with basil. Plus a HUGE pile of lovely organic broccoli. Pie didn't want any at first:
Me: How much broccoli do you want?
Pie: I don't want any. It doesn't go.
Me: Yes it does.
Pie: (Incredulous) Cheese and butter (she ALWAYS has this on jacket potatoes, without exception. She doesn't even vary the cheese. It's ALWAYS cheddar.), and BROCCOLI?
Mum: It's nice. Like a cheese and broccoli gratin.
Pie: No!
Me: Do you want some in a separate bowl?
Pie: That would be nice.


I've never had tofu "ricotta" before, and it was pretty good. I was so scared of not liking it and wasting a big lump of tofu. I used this recipe from the PPK and added a bit of miso and tahini to make it slightly more "cheesey". It had a perfect consistency, but it would have been better with sundried tomatoes added (I couldn't find them in our cupboard of doom). However, it was what I call a "nervous" food-one that you wouldn't serve to anyone else because you just know they wouldn't like it. You have to be used to fake cheese to "get it" I think. The trick with "uncheeses" is not to expect them to taste like dairy cheeses, because they just won't. You have to appreciate them for what they are.
God, I've been tired today. Going to the hospital tomorrow though, so a lie in for me :-)
Have a nice day, wherever you are!

Monday, 9 July 2007

Yummy yummy yummy...

I kick off today's blog entry with a peek at some of my health shop goodies. There's always so much I want to buy, so I always end up leaving something and regretting it. Well, always next time I say...

Plamil Organic Cayenne Chocolate.This is some of the best chocolate I've ever eaten, I swear. Don't let the cayenne pepper put you off. It's not too hot or spicy, just wonderfully rich and smooth with a nice kick to it. Plus it's 70% cocoa solids, so it's good for your heart (and soul)! It seems I've found a dark chocolate to rival the mighty Green and Black's in my affections. It's suitable for vegans too.

Vegetarian Worcestershire sauce! I put this in everything I ate on Sunday, so excited was I to have it. And very nice it is too.

On to the food porn! A speedy bean salad for my luncheon today. It's got pepper, tomatoes, celery, spinach, little gem lettuce, raw pumpkin seeds and beans, tossed in a nice balsamic vinagrette. I also added some cubes of Sunday's sourdough loaf that was going stale, to soak up the juices, at Mum's suggestion. Mmmmm! Because I thought it was getting a bit too healthy, I packed a slice of apple cake (all gone now, alas, alack!) for a mid-morning snack.

And so to dinner. Having punished my body with a cross-country run (not such a good idea. I have been so tired today. I got out of bed and collapsed this morning) I needed some R and R. It was time for PASTA! Mum had promised earlier in the week to make pesto, and make it she did. It was delicious! I had mine with steamed broccoli and different-coloured cherry tomatoes, with some veggie "Italian-style premium cheese" (they can't call it Parmesan because of the PDO). Mum added mozzarella (ick) to hers, and Pie turned her nose up at my lovely veggies and ate hers with just cheese and some ham. Oh well. Above are the bowls all ready for dinner. Don't they look nice?

My bowl of pasta. Mmmm, I probably eat much more pasta than I ought to, but who cares when it's this good?
Hope you all eat something delicious! Coming up tomorrow...the revenge of the MARROW! MWAHAHAHA!!!!
Run, don't walk...

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Some random food pics

Sorry for leaving you in the lurch after my promising first post. Here's some memorable food moments from the past coupla days. The poor photo quality is due to my camera being crappy.

"B'cous cous I love you", from Vegan Eats and Treats. This was fun and had the advantage of being absurdly easy: make couscous and basic tomato sauce, add spinach and pine nuts and stick in the oven. Me and Pie (my little sis) both liked it a lot, although I felt it needed a bit of spice. In the background you can see a salad with little gem lettuce, chard and rocket (from our garden!). I chopped some avocado onto mine. It was nice to make something veggie Pie would eat (she hates all beans and legumes without exception-well, no, she'll eat peas, but not dried ones), instead of grilling the inevitable chicken breast.

A quick (and blurry, apparently-damn that camera!) snacky of porridge with raisins and walnuts, because I was out at an art show (I help manage a scheme at school which helps students to sell/loan artwork) that evening and I didn't know when I'd get to eat.

My eventual dinner, which was a yummy stuffed pepper that Pie made at school, plus the last of the pointy cabbage we've been enjoying of late (they didn't have any when we shopped this week-boo!). Is it just me, or does anyone else like eating the stalks from the centre of a cabbage leaf? They're not rubbery like the leaves, just crunchy and sweet. I imagine they'd be good with hummus (humus, houmous, humous, houmus-how to spell it today?) or some other creamy dip. Try it!

A speedy packed lunch for my maths trip (nerdy, I know) on Tuesday. A homemade wholewheat pitta with peanut butter (Meridian Foods-not organic but yummy and completely additive free. Interesting the organic brand I tried I didn't like.), grated carrot and raisins (which I put in everything, whether it needs them or not. I can go through a pound in three weeks), plus sticks of raw courgette, strawbs (how I love English summers...well, I love the produce, at least...) and one of Mum's "show apples" (we're trying to sell our house so she'd bought loads of fruit to make the place look attractive...she should have known that if it's in the fruit bowl someone in our house will eat it).

Dunno how to rotate this, so tilt your heads. A packed lunch in my special bento box from Japan (I am a complete Japanophile. I learn Japanese and hope to visit the country as soon as possible-it's not really vegetarian/vegan friendly but I view it as being part of the cultural experience). In the box is quinoa and canned corn (hehe, alliteration) with roasty-toasty sunflower seeds and little red pepper stars. Plus steamed courgette and as much broccoli as I could cram in (we like to eat seasonal and I haven't eaten broccoli for over six months). Plus strawberries! Doesn't the broccoli look cute all snuggled up? There's also some tofu that had been lurking in the fridge. I fried it, added soy sauce to make a sticky coating, then added a hefty sprinkling of nutritional yeast. I then cooked it some more and left it to cool before packing it in my bento box. I swear that by lunchtime it tasted just like chicken. I had to check I was actually eating tofu! A bit disconcerting, but yum.

Rude Health Organic Essential Muesli. Yummy, yummy, yummy, with oats, apples, dates, raisins, apricots, pumpkin, sunflower and hemp seeds, and flakes of barley and rye. Only problem is that it has whole linseeds in it, and linseed needs to be ground for you to get the goodness from it. Grr. I ate it with milk (I am ovo-lacto vegetarian, which makes me feel like a hypocrite, but my mum is concerned about me being vegan and I don't want to rock the boat as it took her months to come around to my not eating meat), and a bowl of cherries, strawbs and raspberries (mmmm!)

Yesterday I went on a little trip to Cambridge. Shopping alone is fun, but I have to take care not to overspend (hehe). I went to the health food shop, which is great, although it doesn't have everything, and usually good for bargains and advice. I got organic gram flour, quinoa and buckwheat, plus some other goodies, which I'll post about another time. I very nearly bought some hemp pasta, which would have been the ultimate in hippy food to feature here, but in the end I didn't. Finally found agave syrup but it was expensive and in a glass jar. Does any make it in a squeezy bottle? I was also sorely tempted by a cold-pressed pumpkin-seed oil, but I had visions of putting down my shopping bag heavily and ending up with a nasty oily mess.
I also got some lovely rye sourdough from the Earth's Crust Bakery market stall. The guy looked at me strangely when I asked if it had animal products in (I think he may have been French [in no way am I extracting the michael, just saying the French don't really get vegetarians]), but I explained and he was able to reassure me. I had some toasted for tea with some split pea soup.

Pie's veg garden is cracking along nicely. Here's the first courgette. We griddled it at lunch and it was super. It really put the store bought one to shame. You can't see how big it is, but it was about the size of my hand (which is unnaturally small) and soooo cute. There's loads more that'll be ready to eat soon. Too bad she's going to Italy next week (mwahahaha, all your courgette are belong to us).

My lunch today was a chickpea-stuffed aubergine from The Bean Book by Rose Elliot. It was super-yum. I added a good shake of veggie Worcestershire sauce (because it's brown, and so are aubergines, so I thought maybe they'd go...they did!) to the filling. I ate it with the best roast potatoes ever (roast some Anya potatoes in olive oil with salt and pepper...simple and soooo good). I have a bottomless roast potato stomach. Dessert? You guessed it! Raspberries and strawberries (plus half a tub of ice cream if you're my dad).

I leave you with the tantalising image of the most delicious vegan cake I've ever made. It's moist, spicy, sweet, and also pretty healthy. I used this apple cake recipe, but subbed pecans for walnuts so Pie wouldn't turn her nose up (she had seconds-result!) and used mixed spice instead of cinnamon, although having tasted it I think actually cinnamon would be better. I also peeled the apples so they'd cook down more. MMMMMM. There's two lonely little slices left (they're getting littler, thanks to my "neatening" the edge every time I walk past).
Whilst making it, I inadvertently discovered an instant vegan caramel sauce. When I've worked on it I'll post it here.
Whew, long post! See you soon!

Friday, 6 July 2007

It Begins!

I'm Pumpkin and I live in Cambridge, UK, with my parents (also not entirely normal) and little sister Pie (whose current obsession is her veg patch). As a vegetarian and aspiring vegan, I find that a lot of the delicious, colourful, interesting foods many people have never heard of, yet I eat on a daily basis are often considered "hippy food" and not something normal people eat.
So here's my guide to what I eat and cook eat everyday. Prepare yourself for mung beans, sprouts, hummus, quinoa, tofu, seitan, tempeh and a bucketful of veggies besides. Recipes, photos, whimsical stories and maybe even a coupla jokes.
See you all soon!