Tuesday, 27 May 2014

What's in my lunchbox? Don't follow the recipe

I'd say today's lunch perfectly illustrates a point made a food writer some years ago. I think it was Matthew Fort writing in The Guardian who said if you miss an ingredients or do something differently in a recipe it probably won't be a disaster. It might turn out differently to how you expected but it'll probably be edible.
Mind Body Green has a delightful recipe for a tuna style sandwich filling. This isn't it.
I glanced at the recipe yesterday afternoon, and then relaxed when I saw that the seeds and nuts did not need soaking overnight. It would have been helpful if I had then soaked them in hot water. And if I'd had a red onion to hand and some mayonnaise. And if I hadn't decided that adding the celery to the blender was a really good idea.
But I improvised, add some dried onions, a bit of leek, some kelp powder, plenty of seasoning. And it's turned out fine. I haven't eaten Tuna for several decades so I have no idea if this is anything like it. Probably not but it made for a perfectly pleasing lunch with some cracked black pepper Ryvita, and some roasted Broccolli.
I'll give the proper recipe a go at some point. I rather like using sunflower seeds and almonds as a change from soy and peanuts. It important both for the novelty/variety, and because it broadens the cooking experience.
To read:
Dark Satanic Mills by Marcus Sedgwick, Julian Sedgwick, John Higgins, and Marc Olivent.
I do like a nice graphic novel, and this once was excellent. It wasn't nice at all. The dark pages, filled with a barely recognisable London, told a tale of oppression and violence. It was frighteningly believable. A reminder of the need for tolerance and understanding.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Colchester Vegan Festival 2014

Colchester held their first vegan festival on 10 May so I popped along with some of the Chelmsford Veg Up Group.

The event was held at the Arts Centre, a former church. It was certainly atmospheric with some quirky decor.

There were a variety of stalls including 2 breweries. Us Essex folk do love our ale.I sampled the Hellhound Brewery (Twisted Blonde was delightful - almost a light wine/beer hubrid) but alas Pitsfield had run out before I made it through the crowds surrounding their stand. Maybe I'll get a change to try their wares at the London Vegan Beer Festival.

There were also a number of cake stalls which either had massive queues or were sold out. I managed to snaffle a brownie and a cupcake from P.S. It's vegan, and thought they compared favourable to Ms Cupcake. And Kizzy's cookies weren't bad either.
Hodmedod's offered the first Quinoa grown in the Uk and a range of different beans. I'm looking forward to adding the black badger peas to a lentil and stone fruit salad.

There was hot food in the form of Ken's curry. It must have been good as the queue was almost out of the door.

The cafe area was well placed to look down on the fair activity. Tea and cake was provided by Ruby's vintage tea party. I was delighted by the vegan cake on offer but less than chuffed at the none china being used to serve it.

All in all this was a jolly outing. I came home with a bag of goodies to enjoy. An excellent start for Colchester who did well in attracting both punters and stall holders.


Same time next year? Yes please.


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Dash for coffee

I delighted to stumble across Dash while visiting Vegan X.

I was only looking for coffee so it was real bonus to find somewhere that offered excellent coffee, had friendly knowledgable staff, and who catered for vegans.

The he,pful chap who helped me decide which coffee to enjoy assured me that they were looking into getting some vegan cake. They hadn't found a supplier they liked yet (but it seems that they haven't met Ms a Cupcake either).

It's certainly nice to see another vegan place in that part of town, so I might be back for another loyalty card stamp!


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

What's in my lunch box? Seasonally new


The thing I really like about trying to eat in a seasonal manner is how the variety in my diet massively increases as the summer gets closer. I was very happy when I got the market last week and was able to pick up new potatoes, asparagus, and radishes. This was a nice easy lunch to throw together with some tofu and a few bits from my allotment.

Salad – boiled new potatoes, boiled asparagus, raw spinach, raw rocket, radishes, fried tofu (Dragonfly brand – and a particularly tasty batch). Dressing made with oil, cider vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper.

Rhubarb crumble – home grown rhubarb topped with flour, brown sugar, oil, cinnamon, and ginger


Friday, 9 May 2014

My year of less and more: month 4

Home made elephant costumes

I've now managed four months without purchasing new clothes, shoes or accessories. Last week was a bit of a struggle as I put together various costumes for Spring Fling. However as I was unable to buy clothes I had to make do with what I had or what I could borrow. As a result I had no purchases that I would wear only once, no panicked searches through the shops, and the chance to get innovative. I learnt how to make a beard from a ball of yarn; a skill I'm sure I'll find further use for.

Targets wise things went better in March then April, mainly because my goals got a bit woolly. So I completed March's tasks of garden clearance, creating a classics reading list, and organising a vegan meet up. While I did things in April the results weren't so clear cut.

My progress was as follows:

  • Clear my sewing pile - it's smaller than it was. Three are still a number of items that need work, and a few are going to form monthly goals of their own.
  • Learn about Triads - I now know what these are. A good opportunity to temping myself of the basics of the murky world of musical theory. Should a huge help next time I'm reading Bass a guitar magazine.
  • Clear junk out at a car boot sale - I've set dates to do boot sales. I've made a huge pile of stuff to sell. I just need to. Ring the two together.

My 'challenges' for May are:

  • Make a button collar necklace
  • Make a plan for my sites Not The Vegan Police, and The Vegan Sandwich
  • Create a list of places to visit in Essex

As the outcomes for these are more clear cut it should easier to know if I've done them.


I also need to up my game on 40 for forty.

Things that are the various of my list are:

  • Making crumpets - crumpet rings have been purchased
  • Read a book on wild swimming
  • Find out what the a Shipping Forecast is all about
  • Look up vegan food swaps

So another busy month beckons bringing an emptier house, a better used wardrobe, and an engaged brain.


Wishing you green ink and good food,



Thursday, 1 May 2014

Chelmsford Veg Up

Saturday saw the first meeting of the Chelmsford Veg Up group at the Ideas Hub.

I’d billed the event as a meet up, but quickly discovered the good people of Essex love a pun. So in order to avoid endless meet/meat jokes we’re embracing Veg Up.

I sat there just before noon wondering if I would get any takers so I was delighted when people began arriving, and after a moment of awkwardness the conversation vegan to flow.

Attendees quickly got to know each other as they shared the best vegan places in the area, and vividly described favourite dishes. Ideas for activities flowed, and included a Chelmsford vegan website, meals out, and a pot luck.

The group will be meeting again on 24 May from noon until 2pm at the Chelmsford Ideas hub. We also plan to visit Colchester Vegan Fair on 10th May.

Why not come and join us? Vegans, and the vegan curious welcome.