making decent hummus is a pain in the arse

i’m like three quarters of a tin into peeling chickpeas and am deeply regretting attempting to save money by not buying premade hummus. and i have another tin to go. send proper hummus -_-

also, hai. i have been on a life journey that precluded food blogging. thankfully (?), i am unemployed and broke again and turning to my one surefire stress relieving hobby of cooking. you’re welcome, anytime, truly. …send money and/or a decent job.

culinary cock-up: ‘i don’t have time for this shit’ quick oat milk

lately i’ve been cooking with homemade oat milk instead of soya, because while 59p/litre is great, it still can’t beat 7p/litre.

seriously. i love, love, love cheap shwag.

however, i have discovered two drawbacks to homemade oat milk:

1) you have to soak the oats overnight, which is bad if you just want to make a cheap cheesy sauce on a whim.

2) the ~1.5L you do make has to be used within about 3 days, otherwise it goes all rancid in the fridge. like, come on oat people, you’re not helping me sell this to my family here.

SO today i decided, fuck this, i am making instant oat milk. by essentially pouring boiling water over instant porridge oats, blending, then straining out the porridge.

reader, it worked! i poured 2 cups of boiled water over 1/2 cup of oats, blended, and strained.

okay, it was a bit thicker than normal oat milk, and had the taste and texture of thin gruel.

but it watered down into a passable oat milk, that took 5 minutes to make. it worked, the end.

skint breadcrumbs

so it’s occurred to me that, given how many of my recipes have the instruction to ‘top with breadcrumbs and bake’, i should probably tell you how i make baking breadcrumbs. it’s dead easy, as you’ll see below.

skint breadcrumbs
the 2 heels from a loaf of bread that you were going to throw out anyway
1-2 Tbsp margarine
1-2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2-1 tsp paprika (optional)

toast the bread heels, then tear up and stick in a food processor with all the other ingredients. whizz until fine.

note: if you’re just sticking breadcrumbs in a salad or something, and not baking them, don’t bother with the other ingredients, just use the heels of bread.

i made a fancy thing!! polenta provençal 

sorry for the shitty, multiple-filtered picture. i was going to take a picture immediately upon plating, but i just *had* to have a bite. then, halfway into eating it, i remembered to take a picture. 

so what goes into polenta provençal, i can hear you ask. WELL.

this is a great meal because it looks très fancy but you can prepare all the different components in advance and combine them all together for a super-quick showstopper of a meal.

first thing’s first! go make a whole bunch of the ppk’s chickpea cutlets. you can freeze them before the frying stage too so they’re ready to whip out and cook at a moment’s notice. one of these will sit on top of your polenta, swimming in provençal sauce. 

so i’ll go ahead and write up my polenta and sauce recipes below, for your delectation. 

cheesy polenta
1/2 cup cornmeal
3 cups vegetable stock (can use a combination of stock and plant milk for a creamier flavour)
2Tbsp margarine
1tsp garlic granules
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 head’s worth of boiled cauliflower florets, coarsely mashed (optional)
grated vegan cheese to taste (optional)

look, i make polenta very simply. some people recommend whisking in the cornmeal after bringing the stock to boil – fuck that. put your cornmeal and cauliflower (if using) into a large pan, and pour the liquid over slowly while stirring. if you stir with a fork it helps prevent and break up lumps.

THEN bring your pan to a boil over high heat. add the garlic granules and pepper. you’re going to want to stir this fairly frequently. 

after you’ve brought it to boil, turn the heat down to a simmer (else it’ll start spitting at you). keep stirring frequently. you’ll notice it thickening up nicely. when it’s at pudding consistency, take it off heat and add the margarine, nooch, and cheese. stir well and ladle it out immediately – it will solidify more as it cools!

if you’re making this in advance and it goes very solid in the fridge, you have a couple options. you can either bake or fry it which is delicious, or if you want it more liquid you can whisk in boiled water in a pan and bring it back to boil.

provençal sauce
1 onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, diced into small cubes
2 sticks celery, de-stringed and chopped finely
2Tbsp capers with brine
1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, diced (omit if on a low-potassium diet)
oil or margarine for frying

heat the oil or margarine in a skillet over low heat. add the onion, carrot, and celery, stirring to coat in oil. this is a pretty low-maintenance pan right now – just make sure the mirepoix is spread out evenly and leave it for awhile to soften, stirring occasionally. 

you can wait until the onions are translucent and the carrots soft, or you can even leave for longer until the mixture is golden-brown and caramelised. in any case when cooked to your liking add the capers, brine, and tomato if using, and allow to simmer for a bit longer to let the flavours meld. can be used straightaway or refridgerated/frozen.

tofeta or not tofeta (hint: yes)

so i was on facebook, as i often am, trawling through the ‘what fat vegans eat’ group, as i often do. (go join this group now. it will make you hungry.)

anyways i saw this beautiful picture, accompanied by a loose recipe, and became hungry. i am basically on a cheese kick but hate complicated bullshit recipes involving cultures and rejuvelac and bullshit, so this recipe appealed to me straightaway because:

1. i already had all the ingredients to hand.
2. the most complicated thing i had to do was slice tofu.


so here we go, a more formal recipe:

half a block of tofu, cut into 1cm cubes
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp mint
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
2 to 3 Tbsp lemon juice
enough olive oil to cover

really? just chuck it all into an airtight container, shake it around, and leave it in the fridge for a few hours until you want to use it. occasionally take it out, shake it a bit, and look longingly at it.

i kept it marinating for about a day and made greek salad with it.



using up kale

let’s just come right out with it: i don’t really like kale. you will never find me buying kale in a supermarket. kale is basically glorified cabbage, but like twice as expensive.

and yet. it’s always the first thing i use when the veg box comes, because i don’t want to deal with a bunch of rotten leaves at the end of the week.

a few weeks ago the kale was used up at the expense of the baby, who now has loads of frozen cooked kale cubes to add to his dinners. sorry, kid.

but i do have a couple go-to recipes to use up the bloody stuff. one is raw, in case you’re the type that likes to juice cleanse or whatever, and one is cooked and stodgy. there’s also soup, but soup is boring.

ly-ly’s kale salad
around 2 cups very finely chopped kale (for the love of god remove the spines first)
1/4 to 1/2 cup toasted breadcrumbs
one garlic clove, finely minced
quarter of a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
2 to 4 Tbsp olive oil

mix the dressing ingredients in a salad bowl, then add the kale and allow to wilt a bit. add breadcrumbs and serve.

creamy kale gratin
2 cups finely chopped kale, spines removed
1 large or a couple smaller potatoes, peeled and diced into 1.5cm cubes
(bonus extra root veg that needs using up)
1 leek or onion, diced
a few garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 cup margarine
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 to 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup soya milk
salt to taste (i’d recommend around 1 tsp)
1 cup toasted breadcrumbs, combined with yeast and salt in a food processor

melt the margarine over low heat in a large pan. add salt, leek, kale, and garlic, cooking for a minute. then add the potatoes and other veg, stirring and covering.

cook until the potatoes are fork tender, then add the nutmeg and soya milk. remove from heat and add the yeast. you want a creamy sauce – if the yeast makes it too thick add more milk.

pour the mixture into a baking dish, top with the breadcrumbs, and bake at 220C/gas mark 6 until the breadcrumbs are golden and the sauce is bubbly.



so you know how i rail against bullshit specialty ingredients?  there is one exception, because this ingredient is pure magic.  (hence the filter.)

nutritional yeast – or ‘nooch’ as it is affectionately known – is a vegan’s best friend.  yeah yeah, i also said that about roux.  shut up.  LOOK AT THE PICTURE.

take a good long look at those gorgeous, b12-fortified flakes of wonder.

if you’re looking for cheesy, nutty, or just plain savoury, you’re looking for nooch.  trying to make a white sauce?  nooch.  need something to sprinkle over pasta or baked potatoes?  don’t bother faffing about making some blended-cashew parmesan-like horror, just use nooch.  want your b vitamins in delicious edible form?  eat some nooch. …and maybe also a multivitamin.

i get my nooch off evil corporate amazon, but your local organic/fancypants shoppe might have some too.  when i run out and amazon hasn’t delivered my crack nooch yet, i have to call the only organic shop in my town in advance to make sure they have it, cos every desperate local vegan swarms there like locusts to consume their nooch stock as soon as they replenish and oftentimes they’ll have run out.  in which case i have to fly into a rage and destroy their shop cook something else for awhile until my amazon order comes in the post.