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
ingredients
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)

method
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
ingredients
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

method
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.

fad food: tandoori masala tofu

BEHOLD MY ARTY PICTURE

i’ve now eaten deep-fried tofu coated in flour and tandoori masala spice mix over curry noodles for three meals in a row. they make an excellent savoury breakfast. they also make an excellent savoury lunch. or a snack. or, in double portions, a dinner. or a midnight snack. or an excuse-to-eat-it-again noshy nosh nosh.

ANYWAYS. it’s kinda too simple to write it down as a recipe so i’ll just talk you through it.

i picked up a packet of TRS tandoori masala spice mix from my local costcutter. the ingredients are listed as ‘Coriander, Salt, Fenugreek, Cumin, Cinnamon, Chillies, Black Pepper, Ginger, Onion, Garlic, Mustard, Bay Leaves, Nutmeg, Permitted Colour E124 and E102, Citric Acid, Cloves, Mace, Cardamoms’, just in case you can’t find this spice mix or are too posh to buy premixed spice packets and want to mix it yourself. i know i love to add a bit more extra Permitted Colour E124 and E102, really enhances the flavour of the dish.

so i mixed 1 Tbsp of that with about 3 Tbsp plain flour, and a pinch of extra salt. this should be enough to coat half a block of firm tofu – just cut it up into bitty bits, no need to press it or marinate it or any other bullshit. put the flour mixture and the tofu into an airtight container and just shake it around for fuss-free coatage.

et voilà! chuck ’em in yon deep-fat fryer or a pot of hot oil, then dump ’em straight into your tum. great on top of curry noodles or cheesy pasta.

…now i’m hungry. 

fad food: tofu scramble

does anyone else ever get into a rut, where all they want to eat is the last thing they ate? that is basically my life.

lately i’ve been making the fam breakfast burritos, because come on. while they’ve ranged from basic to fancy, they all have one common denominator: scrambled tofu. my obsession has been reignited (even as my eldest has decided he hates burritos).

so i’m going to share my basic, bare-bones scrambled tofu recipe, as i’ve just eaten it for my second meal of the day.

scrambled tofu
ingredients (for one gluttonous portion)
1/4 packet of tofu, drained
small pinches of the following: salt, onion powder, garlic powder, turmeric
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
vegetable oil and/or margarine for frying

***optional extras***
a few dashes of the following: vegan worcester sauce, tabasco
1 chopped vegan sausage or hot dog
2 Tbsp grated vegan cheese

method
heat the oil/margarine in a skillet over medium heat (if your pan gets really hot put it on low-medium). put the block of tofu in the pan whole, then break up into bits with a wooden spatula or spoon. (this is key – it’s hard to get a nice scrambled texture with evenly-cut tofu.)

once the block is broken up to your satisfaction, put in the spices and stir to evenly coat the tofu. now’s the time to add your sauces and sausages too.

fry until most of the water has left the tofu, then turn off the hob. add the nutritional yeast and grated cheese if using, and stir through. serve immediately in a tortilla or bap, or on hot buttered toast.

low-po: chickpea mayo


is this a new series?? YES IT IS A NEW SERIES

my partner’s on medication that hoards potassium in the body, and has had to go on a low-potassium diet. only problem is, potassium is in EVERY. THING. especially vegetables. what’s a committed vegan to do??

well, with the help of ten thousand million diet sheets from various NHS trusts, we have figured out that a low-potassium vegan diet IS possible! and with that in mind, i would like to share with you my first low-potassium recipe: chickpea mayo sandwich filler.

why chickpeas? why anything?? WHAT IS THIS SORCERY. …okay, calm down. 

tinned chickpeas are low in potassium and can be subbed out for meat in a main meal. (thank fuck for that.) other low-potassium protein sources include seitan, tofu, boiled broad beans, leached red lentils, vegan meat analogues, etc. but i digress.

so in the interest of saving money as we’ve been buying loads of meat analogues, i decided to try my hand at an easy chickpea sandwich filler. i remembered that loads of people make tuna-style salads with chickpeas, so decided to take a cue from there and made an AWESOME chickpea mayo sandwich filler that everyone in my family can eat 🙂

chickpea mayo sandwich filler
ingredients
1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 to 1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise
1-2T mustard (i used squeezy so as to get our son to eat it)
juice of a quarter lemon, plus more to taste
2T capers, plus 1-2T brine
1-2tsp kelp seasoning, or crumbled seaweed
salt and pepper to taste

method
mash the chickpeas first, with a masher or fork. add the mayo, and mash again – you want it chunky without too many whole chickpeas. then add the rest of the ingredients and mix together. put in the fridge to chill and let the flavours come together. serve in a sandwich or with pita bread.

veganism isn’t hard.

okay so i’m going to depart from my usual M.O. today (to the extent that i have an M.O. beyond shitty pictures and weird food obsessions), and be preachy for a minute. don’t like preachy vegans? sod off then.

so here goes: veganism isn’t hard, y’all. 

seriously. not that hard. not that hard to plan delicious and nutritious vegan meals. not really that hard to find decent vegan food on the go. and, seriously, not that hard to stay healthy on a vegan diet.

i shouldn’t even have to say that, but i feel i need to based on two different things. the first is the false media narrative drawn whenever a vegan child is found to be suffering from malnutrition. newsflash, you don’t need an IQ test to be vegan – stupid people are part of our movement too, and sometimes they have kids they don’t feed properly. for every malnourished vegan child i can show you 100 malnourished omni children. 

the vast majority of us – and by ‘us’ here i mean vegan parents – do our due diligence of basic research on how best to feed our children. ffs there is literally NO correlation.

the second thing is a bit more enraging to me personally, and that is that i have a few lovely friends now who have tried veganism, been active committed vegans – and then post a social media update where they show off some brunched-up corpse on a plate.

guys. NO. JUST NO.

i try not to judge people by their diet, as i have a lot more omni friends than vegan. but hell no, i cannot not get pissed off when someone who previously has advocated for the liberation of animals posts, without explanation, or with some half-arsed explanation about ‘free range’ whatever, a picture of a dead animal masquerading as ‘food’!

guys, let me reiterate: VEGANISM ISN’T HARD. ESPECIALLY when it’s approached as a central tenet of your morality. or at least it SHOULDN’T be hard.

of course there are exceptions. do you have hashimoto’s disease? you may find it difficult to be vegan. are you an inuit? you literally cannot afford to be vegan, and much as i hate it, go ahead and hunt your seal. are you on holiday in kazakhstan and cannot find a vegan meal to save your life? you do you.

however. if you are part of the 99% of people on this planet who don’t have a condition or live in an area which precludes subsisting on a plant-based diet, it is seriously not hard to be vegan. it’s actually cheaper to be vegan, even! and with a tiny amount of research and effort, you can thrive on a vegan diet.

there’s no place for animal products in my diet. why would there be, when i don’t think of them as food anymore? why would there be, when i consider animals to be nonhuman persons with the right to live their lives free of human exploitation? why would there be, when the food i cook is so goddamned delicious?

the only ‘complicated’ thing about a vegan diet is remembering to take a B12 supplement or eat fortified food, like yeast or soya milk. is that so hard to do, y’all? hint: it is not. 

seriously. it’s not hard to be vegan. it’s no hardship to be vegan. it’s actually a completely wonderful and positive thing to be vegan, and if you let it, veganism will change your life for the better. 

and on that note, i’m going to go shovel down some guacamole, because i finally found a supermarket that doesn’t ruin it with sour cream. (hint: it’s M&S.)

fad food: dinner salads

image

I. CANNOT. STOP.

it is beginning to annoying my family. ‘i made salad for dinner !!!’ ‘…goddammit.’

i blame tofeta. it set off this endless two-week cycle of increasingly elaborate salads, including a botched batch of ad-hoc ranch dressing. …don’t try and freehand a ranch dressing, guys. trust me.

initially it was greek salad with the tofeta, chopped olives, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and leaves. now i seem to have migrated west along the mediterranean to italy, inspired by my neighbour’s amazing salad with bread and sultanas.

last night’s had some cubed almond chèvre (it turns out gram flour added during the mixing process makes it reliably sliceable!), sliced grapes, onion, garlic, balsamic-stewed tomatoes, chickpeas, and homemade croutons. my son didn’t like it so i ate his leftovers.

i expect with the sudden torrential downpours my salad days are numbered. yay climate change… :-/

fad food: curry noodles and raita

image

no that’s not guacamole, smartarse. i was craving my go-to nice weather junk meal of a packet of curry noodles and homemade cucumber mint raita, but i was too lazy to go to the shops for vegan yoghurt. so i decided to use a mashed-up avocado instead.

and you know what? it is goddamned delicious.

i first hit upon this combo last year, as i was trying to think of a use for curry flavoured packet noodles so i wouldn’t have to go to the shops for less useless packet noodles. (are we sensing the theme here?)

i had a cucumber and some yoghurt to use up, and fresh mint in the garden, so whipped together some raita to go over the noodles. now in summer i pretty much only buy curry noodles to eat with raita!

you can find normal raita recipes that are easy to veganise so i’m going to give you my avocado buttermilk raita recipe instead.

avocado buttermilk raita
ingredients
half a large cucumber, grated and squeezed so that the juice can be drained off (save that juice, it’s lovely with apple juice and water!)
1 avocado, mashed
1/4 to 1/3 cup soya milk
1 to 2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1 to 2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves, or 1 tsp dry

method
combine 1 tsp lemon juice with the soya milk and set aside. once the grated cucumber is drained, stir in the salt and the rest of the lemon juice. add the mint and avocado, stirring until combined. add in the curdled soya milk according to taste – for a thinner raita, add more milk.

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.

yesss.

so here we go, a more formal recipe:

tofeta
ingredients
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

method
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.

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LOOK AT IT.

i made almond chèvre! look at it!

image

LOOK AT IT.

it wasn’t even that hard to do! the only fancy ingredient is almonds or almond meal, but considering that most nut-based vegan cheeses cost at least £5 and sometimes closer to £10, splashing less than £5 on a 500g bag of almond meal that will make around three giant hunks of homemade cheese is nothing.

my favourite thing about this recipe is that it doesn’t require rejuvelac, which just seems like a pain in the arse to make. (i did add nooch though, because nooch is required in all things.)

just scroll up and look at it again. come on. that is fucking gorgeous.

fad food: hot dogs

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i blame waitrose.

there’s a waitrose near the aldi i always shop at, and one day, in a quest for vegan quorn (which ended up not being that amazing anyway, any suggestions for using up the second bag in my freezer would be helpful), i stopped in.

normally i don’t shop at posh bullshit places like waitrose, but as it turns out they’re really really good for finding specialty vegan products! i suppose that’s one benefit to associating the word ‘vegan’ with ‘posh’.

anyways in addition to the quorn i found flavoured tofu (not necessarily big enough packets to justify the price though), swedish glace chocolate covered ice cream lollies, salted caramel coyo coconut yogurt that seriously TASTED LIKE CHEESECAKE Y’ALL, and a packet of vegan franks.

oh, no. the obvious next purchase was finger rolls. no, no, no.

eldest son LOVES hot dogs. we blasted through that packet of franks and due to cheapness and laziness reverted back to linda mccartney sausages. dm;hhd.

after a couple dogs with just ketchup and squeezy american-style mustard, i rediscovered the homemade cucumber pickles in the fridge. a couple days later came the dessicated fried onion in the cupboard. husband couldn’t find finger rolls yesterday so bought white hamburger-style rolls instead. DON’T CARE HOT DOGS.

i’m now at the point where i’m talking myself down from a hot dog for breakfast, like a wino reasoning with herself that so long as the pinot doesn’t come out until the afternoon it’s socially acceptable to day drink by yourself.

…hot dogs are allowed to come out after 10am.

giving myself a week before i attempt a detox.