Monday, 6 October 2008

Delightful domestic disasters

Just to demonstrate that this blog isn't unrelentingly positive(!)...

Firstly, my sprouting lentils are completely defunct. I think I may just have left them too long. The chickpeas are ok, although I guess I'll have to eat them fairly soon to stop them getting in the same state. I need to be a bit more organised about learning how long it takes each thing to sprout and planning my lunches around that.

Secondly, my stock turned out GREY. My mental troubleshooting guide came up with a couple of suggestions for why.
1: It had burnt lentils in. Not the best idea, but I thought I'd try. Never again.
2: I left it, with the veg peelings still in and the heat turned off, for about seven hours while I went out. Hence, it went grey and started to taste and smell of the least pleasant component (cabbage, or more specifically the sulphur it contains) rather than smelling rather nicely of spring onions as it had when I left the house.
I didn't eat it. There is very little vegetable matter I won't eat, so this is saying something. It won't stop me trying again though!

Actually, given that I know what went wrong and how to fix it, maybe that is still a little bit too positive for a Monday morning...

Friday, 3 October 2008

Hot foods for coldy vegans

So, in my department teaching assistants have to go to the lecture for their module. This is partly so the students get to know who we are, and partly so we know exactly what was said in each lecture. Enter freshers' flu. Half the first years coughed their way through the lecture yesterday. So by the afternoon, be it real or psychological, I felt a cold coming on. My strategy for colds is pretty much always to go home and eat spicy food to chase them away.

A few individual ingredients that are useful here:
-Garlic. Raw if you can take it.
-Ginger. Raw or minced in vinegar is better than powder.
-Horseradish or wasabi (different nationalities of the same plant)
-Chilli, of any sort. Hot peppers will unblock your nose and probably a few other parts of your anatomy. (None of which you should wipe straight after cutting up the peppers - wash your hands or get a nasty shock...)
-Any normal curry ingredients. The hotter the better. On this occasion, it is a good thing if your eyes and nose run!

Last night's dinner ended up being miso soup with pasta and a whole load of heat-producing ingredients. I don't have a cold this morning, so either it did the trick or the whole thing was a psychosomatic reaction to being cooped up with sneezy freshers for an hour!

-A tablespoon miso buillion (Marigold, for those reading in the UK)
-Two mugs of water (didn't measure it this time, but I do know how much my smallest pan holds)
-About half a coffee mug of pasta
-1 teaspoon each of horseradish relish and minced ginger
-Half a teaspoon of wasabi powder
-A splash each of soy sauce and rice vinegar (I am putting this in everything right now because I only just bought the bottle)
Boil for about five minutes to give the pasta a head start on cooking. Then add veg. Last night I used:
-Two spring onions
-Two mushrooms, chopped v. small
-Two cloves of garlic. These should be as raw as you can stand, so put them in fairly near the end.

I have put broccoli and carrot in this in the past, but didn't have any broccoli and had been eating carrots in absolutely everything lately so wanted a change.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Some packed lunches

I think I've finally managed to incorporate making a packed lunch into my evening routine. So, here's a peek at what this vegan eats in a working week (in no particular order, as I can remember the lunches themselves better than which day I had them):

* White rice with soy sauce; steamed broccoli; sticks of raw carrot and cucumber; little pot of wasabi paste and Plamil garlic mayo. By 'steamed' I mean I scattered the bits of broccoli over the top of the rice for the last two minutes or so it was cooking. Dinner the evening before also involved rice, to avoid using an extra saucepan. I made rather too much rice - this is the only day where I ended up throwing anything away.
*Chopped cucumber, red pepper and tomato, butter beans, grated carrot and pine nuts, in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a small amount of Provamel cream cheese. (this is basically vegan goat cheese, although you wouldn't know it wasn't margarine from the fairly basic packaging) This was the only time I have had to go and buy a snack, as the salad itself didn't fill me up. The butter beans were boiled from scratch over the weekend - I have some more in the freezer. Should have kept more out.
*2 lentil burgers (homemade, see a few posts down for the recipe); couscous salad with spring onion and olive oil; shredded lettuce; hummous
*Brown rice and chickpeas topped with shredded lettuce and grated carrot. I ate the salad and half the rice mix and was full. Resurrected it with extra salad dressing and mayo the next day.
*2 lentil burgers with quinoa, grated carrot and watercress. This meal was put together at midnight after a few glasses of red wine.
*Couscous salad with cucumber, tomato, spring onions and pine nuts, in olive oil and balsamic vinegar; topped with shredded lettuce.

For the sake of maintaining harmony in a shared office, I've steered clear of ingredients such as raw garlic in packed lunches. I may try to introduce small amounts of onion and see if anyone reacts. At any rate, what I can make is usually healthier than what the canteen has, and is certainly cheaper. It normally takes about half an hour to put something together - maybe longer if waiting for rice or couscous to cool down, but you can always go off and do something else during this period. I think there are a couple of lunches where 'special' products like vegan cream cheese or mayo are used, but this is largely based on what I had in the fridge at that point. They aren't essential.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Vegan MoFo introduction

Hi to anyone who finds this via the Post-Punk Kitchen's Vegan Month of Food page.

Who am I? I have one or two different names on the internet, so stick with the one you know. I'm currently in the last year of a PhD in political theory, subsidising my vegan food habit by teaching first years. I'm 28 and live in England. I love PPK and hate Skinny Bitch. I went vegan for animal rights reasons, but am coincidentally getting interested in eating more healthily due to having spent the last two winters being constantly ill. I also tend to like ducks better than humans: if you are a non-duck reading this, don't take that personally. My hobbies are knitting, cooking, reading murder mysteries and watching anime.

What will you find here?
*Quite a lot of food-diary type stuff, I have to admit. If you're new to veganism or to working in a place that has all of sod in terms of vegan options in the canteen you may find it useful. I've made it a sort of policy to bring in a packed lunch every day, and as this is still a fairly exciting development for me I tend to blog about it.
*Stuff about the difficulties of being vegan and how to get around them. I don't always find it easy in termtime, and am open about that in the hope that anyone reading this will see that 1) you aren't a failure if you have these issues and 2) they aren't insurmountable.
*Commentary on vegan products. Be warned, this is fairly UK-centric as it is nearly a decade since I've been in another country long enough to seek out specialist vegan stuff rather than just finding some nice bread and non-cheesy salad to eke out over a few days. Incidentally, I don't rely on these products even at home - they are somewhat overpriced, overprocessed and over here - but they have their uses.
*Veganism for people with very little money and less time. This is me and also most of the people I first learned veganism from.
*The gory details of my sprouting experiments - my windowsill is currently occupied by a sieve of lentils and a tray of chickpeas. In particular, expect to hear trumpets when I actually manage to produce something edible.
*What happens when I get around to making stock from the various bits of vegetable matter I've been collecting for the purpose. (Hopefully what happens is I have vegetable stock that tastes nice and is a lot cheaper than the buillion powder I normally buy. I have a feeling this may take more than one attempt though. Any tips are welcome!)
*And a whole lot of other stuff that I can't think of right now but may think of when my department's induction period is over and life is vaguely normal!

Food-centric posts made during October will be tagged 'vegan mofo', so they are easy to find. All the tags for this blog are displayed at the bottom of the sidebar, so feel free to explore.