Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Sugar and spice biscuits

I made these to take to the Glasgow Vegans potluck last night. I have yet to adjust to actually owning cookbooks, so this was done without an official recipe.

Dough in the bowl - the white stuff is flour to make it easier to shape individual biscuits. This mix involves about half a bowl of white self-raising flour, enough margarine to make 'breadcrumbs' when rubbed into the flour, a fairly obscene amount of muscavado sugar (the sticky dark brown stuff) and - as the name suggests - a fair bit of spice. This time round I used mostly ginger, but also cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg. Getting it to the right consistency (sticking together but not runny) took about a mug and a half of water. This is also a good time to turn the oven on to preheat - 180 centigrade/celsius is my usual go-to temperature for such things.

The next step - after mixing the dough and flouring up it and your hands - is to shape the biscuits. This can be done by rolling it out on the table, but since I don't have any cookie cutters at the moment there wasn't much point. I just scooped out small lumps, rolled them into more-or-less neat balls, and squashed these to make something resembling a conventional biscuit shape. The mixture filled a large baking tray and two small ones. Then, predictably, I put them in the oven to bake.

After about 20 minutes (long enough to clean up the mess, haha) this was what came out. They puffed up enough to get mistaken for scones but tasted pretty good - my boy can testify to this! The little brown studded bits are lumps of sugar that didn't get broken up properly when mixing, I like them but your mileage may vary.

Monday, 15 November 2010


This was another date night meal, one which took a lot less effort than juggling four curries! Hence, more opportunities to stop and snap photos...

An onion and two peppers (one red and one orange, your preferences may vary) in the wok (yes, I make chilli in my wok) being cooked in hot oil.

The beans go in - one tin red kidney, one tin black-eyed. This is also where I add the chilli powder (maybe two teaspoons) and a pinch of paprika.

One tin of tomatoes, plus some water swilled around the tin to get the last bits.

Cornbread dough - I replaced about half the white flour in a normal mix with maize flour, and added some polenta instead of wholemeal flour. The more orangey one also has a bit of chilli powder in.

Cornbread fresh from the oven!

Nachos with mozarella cheezly, salsa and refried beans. This was our starter.

A bowl of chilli with rice!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Curry - a closer look

The other week I posted pictures from our last curry night, leading a certain person to suggest that we had another one soon. I thought that actually sounded like quite a good idea. So, here are the closeups that I didn't do last time!

Yellow rice, with cardamom seeds and cashew nuts. The yellow comes from turmeric - sometimes I use a bit of saffron, but this is more expensive and less strongly coloured.

Carrots, cauliflower and pepper in coconut sauce. I can't remember what spices went in this one.

Chickpeas with tomato, onion, fresh mint and garam masala

Daal. Sorry about the mankiness of this picture, I swear it tasted better! This was the faffiest of the four things I made that night. I made it nice and thick by boiling the lentils with minimal quantities of water, stirring constantly and adding more water as needed (read: as needed to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan and ripping the non-stick off...) I 'fried' some cumin seeds and coriander in very hot margarine to get the flavour out: this took three attempts as I kept burning the seeds, they really only need to be on the heat a couple of seconds!

All the pans on the stove. The 'veg only' on the green saucepan dates back to when I lived in a shared house with people who needed reminding not to cook meat in my pans. The blue ones don't have this on because I lived alone when I bought them.

Of course, any single one of these can be made on its own or with plain rice! Sometimes having a few things can make it more fun though. Also, we had enough leftovers to make up the next day's lunch with minimal faff.

Saturday, 13 November 2010


I started making bread nearly a year ago, when I realised that wanting toast wasn't the best reason for making a trip to the shop when I didn't need anything else! I had a few early experiments involving beer, but ended up buying yeast and trying to make bread fairly regularly. My boyfriend is addicted to the stuff, which provides added impetus.

Loaves prior to going in the oven. This is mainly white with a bit of wholemeal flour and some seed mix.

And after coming out of the oven!

Making my own bread wasn't really motivated by veganism, as there is plenty of choice with shop-bought bread. Price-wise, it probably works out more expensive than Tesco Value sliced white, but I've calculated that it is cheaper than buying quality bread ready made. I make my bread by hand, hence the slightly uneven shape (that could be sorted by buying loaf tins, but why should I? My mother also makes her own bread, so I grew up with sandwiches this shape!). A breadmaking machine may simplify some things but is also a bit of a financial outlay, especially if you aren't sure how much use you'll get out of it. Incidentally, you can also get decent bread from quite cheap flour - some of the lighter, crustier loaves I've made have involved Tesco Value white flour, albeit with a dash of wholemeal. If I have to buy discount brands (which I do fairly often) then better to get the raw ingredients rather than the finished product!

Friday, 12 November 2010

Another Thursday lunchtime

My lunch yesterday:
-Half a tin of mixed bean salad
-50g or so of wholewheat couscous
-1 large carrot cut into sticks
-A banana

I think I should have incorporated ricecakes or a flapjack or something else extra and carby, because I was hungry enough to have to buy a packet of crisps in a hurry later.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

New sidebar

My sidebar now contains a blogroll called 'vegan blogs I read'. These are the blogs I feel the need to check every day or two for updates, rather than an exhaustive list!

Tofu scrambler

We don't have this as often as we used to, purely because tofu seems to be more expensive and/or harder to find the further north you get. (anyone want to confirm or deny?) Nonetheless, it is possible to get locally-made tofu - with a cool name on it, no less! - so this is one that comes out occasionally.

The empty packet

The crumbled tofu in a bowl. This particular brand crumbles easily after being pressed with kitchen paper to get the water out. You'll have to imagine me doing that, as the boy wasn't available for photographic assistant duties.

Crumbled tofu sprinkled with chilli, cumin and tumeric. Horseradish is the best flavouring to use but I haven't been able to locate any here yet.

Cooked scrambler in a wok. I fried the tofu mixture with a bit of margarine to start with, then added soy milk to give it a more scrambled-egg-like texture. Sometimes I add some vegan mayo (Plamil or Granose, would recommend the former for this as the latter is more like salad cream), but this is strictly optional.

I'm sure you'd love to see a picture of my boy in his dressing gown eating tofu scrambler and looking appreciative, but I'll spare him that one. For now. ;)

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


This is a bit of a regular around here - in fact, it is a week or so since I took these pictures, and I have another one in the oven as I write.

The basics: veg over dried stuff!

The raw veg - potato, parsnip, swede, carrot and tomato (I forgot the onion until after taking pics!) - sprinkled with pepper and paprika. I vary the vegetable content and spices each time. I think this one also has pearl barley and lentils under the veg. Today's offering has dried soup mix in.

Gravy - this can just be Bisto powder with water, but sometimes I add tomato puree or yeast extract for extra flavour.

Veg soaked in gravy, ready to go in the oven. I normally put it in at about 180 centigrade/celsius, and it needs an hour to an hour and a half to cook everything through. Not fast, but fairly low maintenance in that it doesn't need anything doing to it during this time!

Saturday, 6 November 2010


Pumpkin seeds, the by-product of both cooking with pumpkins and making halloween lanterns. They've been washed and dried and are about to go in the oven...

And here they are after half an hour or so! We've been snacking on them a bit, but most are going to be used for making bread...

Gap in posting!

Thursdays are my 'busy' day, my schedule runs from 9-630 and five hours of that time is spent directly in the classroom. I get an hour for lunch, and what I eat in that hour has to keep me going potentially from 1-9pm, so I tend to put a lot in there... This week it was:
  • Sandwiches (on homemade bread, more about that later) with herb pate
  • A Linda McCartney sausage roll
  • A small bag of carrot and yellow pepper sticks
  • A piece of homemade apple and pumpkin pie, again more about that later
  • A packet of plain crisps from the vending machine
This is a bit of a mixture of pure carbs and vitamin content, of fast and slow energy, which is what I need!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Curry night!

This is a more complicated meal than I'd normally make, but it was part of a 'date night' with my boyfriend. Of course each of the curries can also be made individually.

The whole plateful - spinach and chickpea, lentil dhal, bombay potatoes (a bit mushier than I'd intended) and yellow rice with sultanas.

The (slightly messy) table, showing vegan raita (made with Provamel yoghurt), poppadums and mango chutney.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Happy World Vegan Day!

So, I'm back. The reason for my absence is down to a couple of major events - submitting my PhD thesis and moving from Nottingham, England to Stirling, Scotland within the space of a week - and the aftermath: settling in in a new flat in a town I've visited once in less-than-perfect circumstances, adjusting to a new routine, going from living alone to cohabiting, planning new classes, trying to write articles to publish (ok, I'm doing that right now but procrastinating on blogspot...) - you get the general idea. I didn't consciously choose World Vegan Day to make a comeback, but it seems fairly appropriate. Although I haven't officially signed up for Vegan MoFo, I like the sentiments behind it, so this month I will be trying to keep up some kind of routine in order to show exactly what vegans eat and why (except for one of the meals pictured in this post) it isn't that scary!

So, without further ado, my halloween menu

Beetroot soup for lunch - looks gory enough but is in fact completely vegan!

Sunday dinner consisting of roast potatoes, parsnip and pumpkin, swede and carrot mash and stuffed peppers topped with cheezley. Not especially 'scary' but since Halloween was on a Sunday this year I thought it would work...