Tuesday, 26 November 2013

What's in my lunch box? Frozen inspiration

Book and lunch box

Once again I am rummaging in the freezer. Mainly for inspiration but also because I need to clear some space for Christmas food. Admittedly a small pot of coconut milk isn't going to clear that much space, but as that well known supermarket chain puts it – Every little helps.

Clockwise from bottom left

  • Asian marinated tofu – Marinade 'inspired' (as they say on film credits) by the recipe in Vwav.
  • Satsumas – I couldn't resist these – a little piece of Spanish sunshine
  • Brown basmati rice
  • Thai curry – onion, cabbage, spinach, mushroom, and carrots cooked with thai curry paste, coconut milk, and soy sauce. It tastes creamier than it looks.

To readNow you see me by S.J. Bolton

This was packed with false trails, dead ends, and unexpected revelations. I kept thinking that I had ti all worked out and then something would happen that would throw my theory. Everyone was a suspect so the only way to solve the mystery is too keep reading.


Saturday, 23 November 2013

What's in my lunch box? Double chestnut


Lunch box and book

Looking at the photo of my lunch I'm impressed with how autumnal it seems. I'm slightly disappointed in myself at including two types of chestnut dish but I'm sure I can live with it.

Clockwise from bottom right:

  • Roast chestnuts - so easy to do. Fun to shell. And surpringly filling.
  • A delicious ripe conference pear
  • Pasties filled with chestnut purée. I made Chestnut soup last week and has some left over so it seemed the idea filling for these cute mini pasties.
  • Roasted garlic Brussel sprouts from VWAV. I still prefer them steamed but as the oven on...also enabled to breathe anti vampire fumes!
  • To read - The first book of Calamity Leek by Paula Lichtarowicz. This reminded me of Room crossed with Lace crossed with The Amtrak Wars. The use of language is inventive and has a quirky charm. I enjoyed the cultural references, and the different ways things could be interpreted depending on context. The reader is torn between which characters to root for - knowing full well that they can't all get what they want.

Wishing you green ink and good food,



Saturday, 16 November 2013

What's in my lunch box? Peas and the past

Lunch box and book

Ever keen to expand my knowledge of pulses, I decided to give marrow fat peas a go. I vaguely recalled reading somewhere that they were grown and produced in the UK (although I haven't investigated this any further. I'd also read somewhere about the benefits of eating seaweed, something I do enjoy. So I purchased a nice packet of Hijiki harvested in Japan to keep my carbon footprint skyhigh!

Putting these together I planned to make something fish and chips inspired. Theoretically the marrow fat peas should have been made into mushy peas for dipping polenta fries into. Old habits die hard though and I ended up making something more akin to refried beans. Guess my love affair with chilli isn't anywhere near cooling off.

Clockwise from bottom left:

  • Refried marrow fat peas - soaked, boiled and fried up with oil, onion, lemon juice, salt and chilli.
  • Polenta fries - from The Vegan lunchbox cook book
  • Roasted Brussel sprouts with toasted garlic from Vegan with a vengance. These are favourite vegetable and I love them so much that I hate the thought of interfering with the flavour. However the oven was on so I gave them a go. Tasty and they keep better than steamed sprouts.
  • Hijiki seaweed - bought dried and soaked in hot water

To read: The boy who loved books by John Sutherland. I don't know where I picked this up but I put off reading it for ages.the appeal had been the thought of someone else who's childhood was definded by what they were reading but I thought it might get heavy or overtly sentimental. I was also worried he's waffle on about books that passed me by as a child (Roald Dahl for example). Instead it turned out to be a smashing read for the most part. Sutherland shares his largely neglected childhood in war time time Colchester. It was wonderful to get a glimpse of how the town used to be. He'd read different things to me but it didn't matter. He's fabulous at summing up a book, and offering what he thought then, and what he thinks as an adult. The last few chapters where he talked about his time at university and his alcohol problems were less engaging but that hardly surprising. He clearly found them gloomy too.


Wishing you all things green,



Tuesday, 12 November 2013

The sociable vegan

An arm injury (it involved a stool and momentarily forgetting where I was) curtailed my ability to get around at the end of October so I was happy to make up for it this week by attending two vegan events.

Vegan Pot Luck is something I've planned to attend for sometime. Alas as it's on a Wednesday evening it clashes with my Burlesque class. My injury is requiring me to take a little break, which has opened a window of opportunity.
Broccoli tarts

Deciding what food to take was a dilemma but in the end I made these Broccoli tarts. What an event it was! The selection of food was great, and varied. In fact there was some serious impressive food including a zombie graveyard. It was a real pleasure to experience so much home cooked vegan food. It was also good for chatting to people I hadn't met before.

I meant to take loads of photos of the food but only remembered as plates started to be filled - too late you've gotta get in quick in a room full of vegans feeding! And new dishes kept appearing as latecomers added their contribution to the tables.

Plate of food

Saturday was the Brecknock Road vegan festival organised once again by that ever enthusiastic organiser of excellent events, Fat Gay Vegan. Various shops in Brecknock Road were taking part, Will's Vegan shoes were being launched at The Third Estate, and I'd volunteered to staff the Vegan Society stand for a couple of hours.

Despite the rain it was an excellent occasion. I kicked off with a hot dog from The Mighty Fork. The beer sauce kept me warm.

Hot dog

Then I got down the business of chatting to people, giving out Vegan Society material, and handing out goody bags. I was also pleased to find out that although the Vegan Society logo is being changed, the vegan symbol that appears on approved products isn't. That'll make my choice of tattoo easier then (see Forty for 40 - no.26).

 I was delighted to met a brewer of vegan beer who is based in Essex.

Bottles of vegan beer
Andy, the head brewer, at Pitfield's was happy to tell us all about his beer. The Christmas brew involving cherries and dark chocolate sounds amazing, and with changes to CAMRA regulations his wares/brews are likely to be making an appearance at beer festivals.

I was reluctant to leave the stand after my stint (I do like to meet people and talk) but it was nice to go inside and defrost my feet while admiring the stock at The Third Estate, and the new shoe range.

Will's vegan shoes
Quite frankly The Third Estate is the best place to go in London for vegan shoes, and this addition just makes it even better.

I returned to Essex to rest my arm with a slice of chocolate cake and a feeling of optimism. When can I spend another day talking vegan, admiring shoes and buying cake?

Wishing you all things green,

Saturday, 9 November 2013

What's in my lunch box? 200 years later

Food and book

So 200 years after it was written I've finally gotten around to reading Pride and prejudice. My ignorance of it (beyond the opening line) was a growing embarrassing. I read and loved the graphic novel Pride and Prejudice and zombies, but there was a nagging fear that I might have enjoyed it even more if I was familiar with the original. Having applied myself to it (and ticked off a goal for this year), I'm delighted to say that I can see why it has endured. The plot is amusing, the use of language lively, and the characters are wonderful. I find myself very partial to Mr Bennet.

Also in my lunch box:

  • A delicious Cox apple grown in Essex
  • A version of Emira's speedy kale and tofu delight from La dolce vegan served with brown rice. I threw in some chilli flakes and a spoonful of peanut butter, and skipped the pine nuts.
Emira's speedy kale and tofu delight