lavendersparkle: (Tofu)
I might not be doing this quite right as I'm making these links a bit more like a blog roll than the sort of 'I saw this interesting/appalling post' type links. Oh well, this evening I will tell you again about a website I've linked to a lot on my blog before, but it deserves linking to again as it is awesome.

http://www.theppk.com/recipes/ is the best place on the internet I know of to find great vegan recipes. It's where I send people whenever I receive a plea for help finding an animal product free recipe. My particular favourites include Wheat gluten sausages, which I'm making tonight for dinner, and Dilly stew with rosemary dumplings which tastes as good as it looks.

Another site I like for recipes is http://justbento.com/ This week my packed lunches have included: tofu dumplings, dry curry, onion and pepper confit, stir fried cabbage with cranberries and scrambled tofu.
lavendersparkle: (Tofu)

This isn't a particularly impressive bento, but it was yummy. I made stir fry for dinner and after dinner, wanting to go to bed rather than overthink the bento, I realised that I could just eat the remaining noodles and put the veggie and tofu part of the stir-fry in my bento box along with a pre-frozen portion of rice.

Stir-fry is one of my favourite quick yummy dinners. Grab random veggies from the fridge, soya sauce, onions, maybe miso and 30 minutes later there's yummy healthy food. In this case I particularly wanted to cook this because the steamed tofu dumplings only use less than half of a pack of tofu so when I make them I have to make something else with tofu in within the next few days. I'm trying to plan ahead to ensure that I use up ingredients and minimise waste.
lavendersparkle: (Tofu)

This was my lunch on Monday. Short grain brown rice which I cook in big batches and freeze in 1 cup portions to defrost in the microwave to put in my bento in the morning. The tofu dumplings are one of my favourite bento items and so yummy it's hard to not eat them all when I make them. The recipe is from Just Bento and I make them with wanton skins which I buy frozen from Yarden, which is why I think mine have a bit more skin to filling than Maki's. The carrot kinpira is also from Just Bento but I think I left out the chilli and soya sauce when I made this batch to just have the carrot and sesame goodness.

The box is a Bento Colors box and you can just see the head of a of the duck Animal sauce bottle poking out from under the rice.
lavendersparkle: (Tofu)
I decided to post about the bentos I make for work. Maybe it will provide inspiration to others.

This is pretty much a replication of the Vegan dry curry bento on Just Bento.

I made the dry curry with chickpeas rather than tempeh because I had a tin of chickpeas whereas tempeh is a slightly more exotic ingredient which requires a trip to Muswell Hill. As Maki says, the dry curry freezes really well. I made a batch weeks ago, bunged it in the freezer in some tuperware and just pulled it out to spread on top of rice in my bento box. I didn't need to defrost it when I packed it in my box. I've also taken to cooking big batches of short grain rice and freezing it in one cup portions, then I just defrost it in the morning in the microwave as I make breakfast.

If you're interested, the box is a 800ml Lock & Lock box which comes with the dividers. Annoyingly the dividers don't reach up to the lid so there is a little bit of movement between the sections as I carry my lunch to work, but not as much as you'd expect. Future posts may contain pcitures of my cute bento accessories.
lavendersparkle: (Tofu)
It may shock people to hear that despite being vegan for about a decade (my I'm old) I've not been much of a fan of green vegetables. I've eaten broccoli, but that was about it. However, over the last few months my omnivore husband has been winning me over to them. It started with bubble and squeak. Surely no one can object to a bit of cabbage or spinach if it's mixed with fried potato and onion. Gradually I got over my aversion to leafy veg to the point where I was willing to add a small serving of plain cabbage or kale to my plate. This is a Good Thing because we are entering the time when the main veg in season are 101 brassica variations on the theme of leaves.

This week on my trip to the local organic veg stall I was adventurous enough to buy a sprout top (the leaves at the top of the sprout stem). Inspiration for what to do with it struck when I decided that I'd also like to try the recipe for Ethiopian Spicy Tomato Lentil Stew on Post Punk Kitchen. I wanted some kind of vegetable side dish and a bit of googling turned up recipes for gomen wat, which is Ethiopian style greens. I amalgamated a bunch of recipes to make my own.

Serves 2-4 as a side dish

Ingredients
One spout top
One small red onion
One clove of garlic
One green pepper
Vegetable oil
Spices (I used a pinch each of turmeric, ginger and ground cardamon)

I boiled the sprout top leaves for about ten minutes until they were done and then chopped them into small pieces. I chopped the onion and fried in some oil in a small saucepan. I minced the garlic and added it and then chopped the pepper into 1-2cm chunks and added them. Once the onions are translucent add the greens and spices and stir until heated through.

I served both on this deeply inauthentic imitation of injera, which takes 15 minutes to make as opposed to three days for the real thing.
lavendersparkle: Jewish rat (Default)
As part of my attempts to lower my carbon footprint I've been trying to buy and eat more locally produced, seasonal, unprocessed food. It's hard to work out the exact carbon footprint of a particular item of food and some things can catch you out, for example New Zealand lamb can have a lower carbon footprint than British lamb, because the lower carbon intensity of production in New Zealand makes up for the transport emissions.

My approach at the moment is to go to the market on Sundays and buy a big load of veg from the local organic farmer who has a stall there and then base my meals around what he has. I'm also trying to be a bit more aware of what's in the fridge so that I can think "x, y and z aren't going to last more than a week, so if I don't eat x today, I definitely need to use it by Friday and I can put y and z and a thing tomorrow". Luckily veg gets to the 'it will probably be OK in a casserole' stage before it becomes inedible and we're in casserole season. Of course, to make things more interesting than boil veg every day you have to include some more processed/imported ingredients such as cooking oil and spices.

Here are some of the things I've been eating lately, which mainly involve seasonal fruit and veg.

Ginger Roasted Winter Veg You can use carrots, parsnips and potatoes rather than the veg suggested.

Orange-glazed beetroot. Basically just boil the sliced beetroot in orange juice with a little bit of salt and maple syrup until cooked, then reduce the liquid into a glaze.

Braised Red Cabbage

Apple crumble

Do you have any good recipes for vegan foods which are in season at the moment?
lavendersparkle: Jewish rat (Default)
Reply to this meme by yelling "Words!" and I will give you five words that remind me of you. Then post them in your LJ and explain what they mean to you.

The words I got from [livejournal.com profile] atriec were: religion, marriage, clothing, Queens', food

religion )

marriage )

clothing )

Queens' )

food )
lavendersparkle: Jewish rat (Rat)
Previous years Pesach has always been my least favourite holiday. It's the food issue. I'm vegan and don't live in Jewland. Trying to have a kosher Pesach is that bit more of a struggle and I tend to fear that I'm going to starve. I've also always had the worst of both worlds because I didn't feel like I culd eat anything but also couldn't keep properly kosher for Pesach. This year has changed all of that. I have my own kitchen which I can clean and kosher and I have a fridge full of yummy vegan Pesachdik food. So far, as well as the seder food, I've had baked potatoes with salad and homous, oven chips and ratatouille with harissa (harissa on chip is nom nom nom) and for breakfast, a particularly tricky meal for Pesach and veganism, I've been eating charoset, baked apple and matzah.

I may be getting over my Pesach-phobia.

Pesach

Apr. 10th, 2009 10:22 am
lavendersparkle: Jewish rat (Rat)
This Pesach was the first one where I had my own kitchen to kosher for Pesach. It's also the first time I've held my own seder and, of course, the first time I've had the opportunity to perform birkat hachama.

I started planning Pesach a couple of weeks ago. We decided to hold our own seder. Previous years we've visited the families of friends for seder. This year we didn't want to have to travel. I also feel guilty imposing a vegan on people during Pesach, not an easy catering prospect. We invited our friend Alice to join us. I made two visits to London to obtain kosher l'Pesach food and haggadot. Pesach cleaning began on Sunday and took most of Monday. Monday evening we went to Tesco and bought things we needed that couldn't be koshered, such as roasting trays and crockery. Tuesday involved koshering and covering the kitchen in tin foil. Tuesday evening Alec rather enjoyed hiding bits of chametz in our bedroom for me to find. He was so sneeky in his hiding that we had to play 'hotter colder' to find them.

Wednesday morning represented the once in a 28 year chance to do Birchat HaChama. Sunrise was at 6:20 so I invited my friends to join me on Castle Hill at 6am to be able to perform it as the sun edged over the horizon. [livejournal.com profile] frankthebarmaid and her boyfriend bravely showed up but, having waited half an hour nearly getting blown off the hill, we decided that it was far too cloudy to be able to see the sun, so we went back to [livejournal.com profile] frankthebarmaid's room for a chametzy breakfast. At about 7:30 we noticed out of a West facing window that it looked quite sunny out, so we went into [livejournal.com profile] frankthebarmaid's East facing bedroom to say the blessing. On the way home I bought some vegetables for the seder and got home to find Alec still in the shower. I finished the koshering then popped out for some more seder supplies, then came home, eat lunch at 11am (I'd been awake since 5:10) and had a schluff. I woke up in early afternoon and started cooking for the seder. In case you didn't believe a vegan seder were possible here's the menu:

Starter: Salad and crudités with kosher l'Pesach Yarden dips
Soup: Potato and asparagus soup
Main: Roast vegetables, broccoli and home made ratatouille
Dessert: Baked apples

As always, even with a whole afternoon to cook we were still running around prepping when Alice arrived at 7. But we had it reasonably under control by candle lighting. We had a relatively traditional seder. 'Hippy shit' was confined to having a Mirium's cup which was filled at the start of the seder and vegan swaps on the seder plate. We had a beetroot instead of a shank bone and lentils instead of a baked egg. My reasoning for the lentils was that the egg has lots of symbolic meanings. It represents Spring and new life, and lentils are seeds so can also represent new life. Eggs are also a mourning food, which represents our mourning at the lose of the Temple, and so are lentils. We had Palwin for the first cup but Alec nearly retched at the taste, so for the other four cups we used a bottle of kosher Prosecco left over from the wedding. The downside of this was that downing sparkling wine made me burp rather a lot. We read most of the seder in English as none of us are incredibly good at Hebrew. We sung the bits that we could manage to remember the tune to. We adopted the Persian tradition of attacking each other with spring onions during Dayenu. Alec was quite vicious with his. I think that next year I'll get a haggada with transliteration for Alec as he was a bit left out during the Hebrew singing. In preparation for being a proper yiddishe mama I hugely over catered and when we found the afikomen (which Alec had expertly hidden) Alice was so full that she just about managed to eat her bit. I'd forgotten how long the bit after the meal is, but we managed it to allow Alice to escape at about midnight.

I managed to make it to shul the next morning and being one of the first few people there I got to open the ark.
lavendersparkle: Jewish rat (Default)
There's a science story doing the rounds and the way that it is being reported is really pissing me off. Here's an example from the Telegraph Vegan Diet Increases risk of birth defects, scientists warn.

What's wrong with this story? Well, the headline and the fist paragraph are both flat out lies. You can tell this because when you actually read the news story you find that they never actually quote any scientists saying that a vegan diet increases the risk of birth defects. If any scientists had actually said that, and it's their headline, wouldn't they, ya know, actually provide any evidence that this were the case. Instead they quote that B12 deficiency in early pregnancy increases the risk of birth defects and a scientist recommending that B12 supplements be recommended to women who are likely to conceive in the same way that folic acid is. The closest the Telegraph gets to substantiating its headline is to point to that B12 is found in "meat, eggs and milk" conveniently forgetting to mention that it's also found in yeast extract and lots of foods marketed to vegan are fortified with it. In fact, B12 deficiency is very rare even among vegans, because you only need a tiny amount, and tends to effect people past childbearing age. Furthermore, when studies have been done on pregnant vegans they show no worse outcomes, and young babies tend to do a bit better than average because a higher proportion of vegans breastfeed compared to omnivorous mums.

This article is following one of the classic Bad Science Reporting formulas. You get a press release with some findings which had been indicated by previous studies and has some public health implications yawn yawn. Then you realise that you can turn it into a Story by connecting the implications to a convenient scapegoat. Got a story about sunlight exposure and vitamin D? Make it about burqas. Got a story about B12 deficiency? Make it about vegans. Write a sensationalist headline blaming your chosen scapegoat and then cunningly use sub-clauses to make your connection without quite putting words in the researchers mouths.

I'd usually blame this on journalists being scum but I'm a bit suspicious. This story was reported with the same spin in several places. I'm a bit suspicious the the sexing up may have occurred before it crossed the journo's desk. A couple months ago there was a news story everywhere about research which might lead to a prenatal test for autism and how we should have a discussion about the ethical dilemmas such a test might present. I friend of mine who works in medical research in Cambridge later told me that the actual research that the story was loosely based upon a) confirmed findings which had been sort of found before an b) only showed quite weak relationship.* However, if you're related to Ali G, weakly confirming a relationship which we already sort of knew about and has no clinical applications doesn't have to get in the way of being in the international press. So the research group called lots of media outlets, fed them the abortion spin and the press jumped on the story.

This kind of spin is annoying because a) it's dishonest and b) it misleads the public about information which might be important to their decision making. The Telegraph headline is irresponsible because it will lead to more pregnant vegans getting hassle about their diet and omnivorous women thinking that B12 efficiency is something that they're immune to. A much better headline would be "Scientists recommend women take B12" or "B12 deficiency associated with birth defects". Those headlines would have been honest and might have actually changed people's behaviour in a way that might improve their pregnancy outcomes.

Edit: Here's a link to the abstract of the study. Some interesting points to note:
It doesn't mention vegetarians or vegans at all, they measured B12 deficiency through blood samples during pregnancy rather than looking at diet.
It states that previous studies have established a link between B12 deficiency and birth defects and this study only aimed to quantify the already known relationship. So an honest headline would read "Link between B12 and birth defects measured more accurately than in previous studies".

*As they described it there was a scatter graph with a cloud of dots that were sort of upward sloping enough that you could fit a line but not enough to mean that any level of testosterone couldn't be seen with any level of autism.

Hurray!

Feb. 25th, 2009 10:18 am
lavendersparkle: Jewish rat (Default)
We managed to make vegan pancakes last night thanks to Vegan with a Vengeance. OK, they were little scotch pancakes but they were yummy.
lavendersparkle: Jewish rat (Default)
I made White Bean and Roasted Garlic Soup from VWAV. It was nom nom nom. I think next time I make it I won't use so much lemon juice, possibly no juice at all. The recipe claims to be for 6 portions but it is nothing like 6 portions, especially not given how nommy it is.
lavendersparkle: Jewish rat (Default)
This evening I cooked Ginger Roasted Winter Vegetables from VWAV. They were really scrummy. They took a bit longer to cook than the recipe side but I think that this is because I didn't cut the carrot as small as the recipe said to so it took a bit longer to cook. Although they are really scrummy, they're definitely a side dish because they're very gingery and, having scoffed quite a lot of them, my tongue now has a weird tingly feeling like when I eat too many kiwis. I had them with mash and boiled broccoli; Alec had them with mash, broccoli and roast cod.

Nom nom nom!

Note: If you fancy trying one of these recipes I'm happy to email it to you. I think it would be a bit unfair on the author to write the recipes out in my LJ, not to mention legally precarious.
lavendersparkle: Jewish rat (Default)
I think that my Christmas presents are rather indicative of my increasing domesticity. Among the gifts I received were:
Utimately Sewing Bible
A fill in your own recipes type recipe book
A food processor (as a joint present for Alec and me)
Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World
Vegan with a Vengeance both by the lady in Post Punk Kitchen
and a giant (by which I mean 12 inches across) teacup and saucer

I am quite eager to have a go at lots of these recipes and thought I should write up my experiences with them so far.

The first thing I cooked was Pineapple Right-Side-Up Cupcakes from VCTOTW. VCTOTW advised me that whilst silicon bake ware may be cute and convenient to store, a good heavy metal muffin pan was far more likely to result in good cupcakes. I dutifully bought from Tesco the muffin pan and some arrowroot for the recipe. One slight difficulty was that the recipe called for crushed pineapple, which I assume is one of the forms of pineapple which can be bought in tins in the US but not here. I managed by simply cutting and smooshing some tinned pineapple chunks but I don't think that my cutting was fine enough for the icing. Anyway, how did they turn out? I found, as with all my attempts at vegan cupcakes or muffins, that they seemed a bit moist for my liking. Alec didn't think that they were too moist so maybe it is my expectations about the optimal moistness of cupcakes which is in the wrong. The icing was interesting. If was quite fun to make and spread because, being a mixture of sugar, pineapple, pineapple juice and arrowroot, it was most accurately described as pineapple goo. It was very nice as long as one ignored the fact that it could make a good candidate for some kind of Halloween gruesome food party. I decided to refer to it as pineapple jelly icing to anyone I was hoping to entice to eat the cupcakes. Alec and (boy) Sam both tried them and though that they were very nice and very pinapply.

On Saturday evening Alec and I had fun together in the kitchen making Homemade Gnocchi with Classic Pesto to go on his and Pizza Sauce to go on mine, all from VWAV. Cooking together was a lot of fun when we both knew what we were doing and didn't get into too many cooks situation. Even with two of us working on things, making gnocci at home takes ages and probably isn't worth it if you're not using the experience as a fun coupley activity and have trouble getting hold of kosher gnocci. That said, the gnocci turned out very well, better than shop bought gnocci. When Alec was making the pesto he discovered that we didn't have enough fresh basil but it turned out OK and was more walnutty for the lack of it, which was good as Alec had been reminiscing about some gnocci in Walnut pesto he had had on honeymoon. he quickly sautéed his gnocci in the pesto which was very good, it tastes good restaurant good. The pizza sauce was the first time I've managed to make a tomato sauce which tasted like sauce rather than just tinned tomatoes with some stuff added to it. I didn't think it was as nice as the pesto but in fairness, the recipe is intended to be sauce to go on pizza bases.

On Sunday I made the Gingerbread Apple Pie from VWAV. My first problem was that the author had forgotten to give the oven temperature with the recipe so I had to use a bit of google-foo to find it. The dough was a lot moister than I think it should have been. I added extra flour to it but it was still very moist and when the pie came out of the oven it was really wet. Alec and I agreed that it seemed to be too sweet and Alec thought that it was over spiced (that was more generous measuring than the recipe) but I liked it spicy. It was still rather yummy but too sweet to be able to eat on it own in more than small portions. In the evening I followed the VWAV recipe for Rich Vegetable Stock I made five pints of stock (I doubled the recipe which is for 3 and a half pints so I think it got condenced plus I didn't have a muslin to squeeze the last drop of stock out of the vegetables with) which tastes very good and we tried to use the drained vegetable mush to make soup, to find that all the flavour really had gone into the stock. I'm not sure what to do with the rest of the vegetable mush, I may find a use for it so into the freezer it goes.

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