Monday, December 22, 2008

Work Christmas Party

The Christmas Party is something to be enjoyed or endured by the whole of the working class. It could be a quick beer down the local with a couple of colleagues, or it could be a fancy 5 course meal in the most expensive restaurant in town. Whether you look forward to this annual occasion, or dread it, it will inevitably come crashing down on you like a ton of elves around this time of year.

For me, the menu is usually the biggest worry, as there is rarely anything even remotely vegan on it. And I've heard some truly horrific stories about how badly a Christmas meals can turn out if you aren't careful.

So it came as quite a relief when I was asked to email the chef with exactly wanted. I had to think long and hard about this, as I wanted to get the most exciting meal possible, without pushing the boundaries so far that the chef decided that a salad would be easier. Its like trying to pick your lowest price when trying to barter.

I don't think I was adventurous as I could've been. I chose a rocket salad for starter, stuffed aubergine for main, and I left the dessert option to the chef's imagination, forwarding on my favourite blog as reference to some awesome desserts that would've been great. Turns out his imagination wasn't as far reaching as mine, and I ended up with the ubiquitous fruit salad.

Rocket Salad
Stuffed Aubergine
Fruit Salad

All in all though, the chef did very well, and I'm looking forward to my next opportunity to create my own personal menu. And after a sufficient amount of drinking and gambling, and a fair few chocolate truffles that I'd brought along, the fruit salad had been forgotten.


Monday, December 8, 2008


Continuing on with the Eastern European exploration, my latest adventure was to the capital of Hungary. There is something charming with these countries that is hard to quantify, but always leaves me with a thirst for more. Maybe I've gotten used to going to all the touristy areas with my parents, but it feels refreshing to being in a place where you feel like you are walking amongst "their" world, rather than a world that has been retrofitted for tourists.

Okay so Budapest has its fair share of tourist shops selling a plethora of scarfs, Russian dolls, magical boxes and bottles of the local beverages, but on the whole, most of the restaurants, pubs and parks seem to be tailored for and used by the locals. Which is what I want when I'm on holiday - I want to have my beer in an authentic Hungarian cellar bar, not an English bar!

Authentic Cellar Bar

And conveniently, such a bar was right on our doorstep, which is where we ended up on quite a few occasions! Ever since returning from Prague I've been longing to having more of the Bavarian style dark lager, and Hungary certainly didn't disappoint. And to my delight, this delicious malty drink was served in whopping one litre Maßkrüge glasses.

Maßkrug and signs of Palinka

Traditionally, Hungary is perhaps the least vegan friendly city imaginable, and it really was a struggle to find something to eat in a regular restaurant. I had come prepared with a piece of paper describing exactly what I could and couldn't eat, in Hungarian, and it helped to drive the point home. However, I wouldn't stake my life on everything I ate being entirely suitable for vegans. Good thing I'm not allergic to anything.

Food at Regular Restaurant

Luckily the abundance of tearooms made up for the lack of restaurants, I think I must've drank my body weight in tea! And there were a few vegan restaurants that I got to try during our stay, Darshan Biopont being the most memorable, where I had a sampled some extremely delicious cake!


So, I will now reveal what my new toy was: A camera! My purple friend was actually "Pain" from Hercules, but I've had him for years - he was simply modelling for me. So I've finally managed to get my hands on an awesome photo-taking machine in time for this holiday, allowing me to take much better photos than my mobile phone would allow. I just have to learn how to use it now!

The Danube at Night
The Danube at Night
The Danube at Night

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A New Toy?

Halloween Approaches

And so halloween is again descending upon us. Trick-or-treating and bonfires aside, there are a few things looming ahead, which need a bit of preparation. Firstly, a scarey costume, so I don't stand out from the crowd next Friday. Next is a pumpkin, with eyes and a mouth, because lets face it, a halloween without pumpkins with faces is like christmas without presents. Lastly, I need to get my lazy butt into gear, and make me some halloween themed treats, possibly involving said pumpkin, killing two metaphorical birds with one big stone, or in this case, big orange gourd.

10 cookies if you can name my new toy :) The clue is in the photo.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dealing with the Masses

"You just have to this party, it'll be fun!", my sister told me a few weeks ago. Only after I'd agreed to trek down to London, did she mention that she actually wanted me to cater for it! Apparently, the host had actually requested my sushi. I'm sure he must've read about the legendary last batch which turned out so well...! Or maybe he just likes sushi. Anyways, I like a good challenge, so I went for it.

I planned to go to the Japan Centre for essential sushi-making supplies the day before, but after a slight detour to a pub, followed by a salsa club, and then a quick kip for a few hours, it seemed like my day of preparation had dissappeared, and had been replaced by a few hours before the next party in which to improvise up some much-anticipated sushi. A quick trip to the local supermarket didn't yield a lot - no special sushi rice, not even any tamari! I had to make do with plain old shortgrain rice. I even ended up buying some placemats, which looked a bit like something you could use to roll sushi. Luckily I had bought the nori with me, which was a good thing, else it would've had to have been nachos...


With all the ad-hoc cookery going on, I was expecting a bit of a disaster, but by the end of the afternoon, I was the proud owner of a several plates of delicious looking sushi! My single previous sushi session must've been a good enough training experience to let me loose on a sheet of nori and some rice.

They didn't last long I can tell you. A success!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

An Excerpt

"We will eat," I told him. "Good," he said, holding the photograph very near to his face. Sammy Davis, Junior, Junior was persisting to cry. "One thing, though," the hero said.
"You should know..."
"I am to say this..."
"I'm a..."
"You are very hungry, yes?"
"I'm a vegetarian."
"I do not understand."
"I don't eat meat"
"Why not?"
"I just don't"
"How can you not eat meat?"
"I just don't"
"He does not eat meat," I told Grandfather.
"Yes he does," he informed me.
"Yes you do" I likewise informed the hero.
"No. I don't"
"Why not?" I inquired him again.
"I just don't. No meat"
"No meat."
"Do you eat veal?"
"Oh, God. Absolutely no veal."
"What about sausage?"
"No sausage either?" I told Grandfather this, and he presented me a very bothered look.
"What is wrong with him?" he asked.
"What is wrong with you" I asked him.
"Its just the way I am" he said
"What did he say is wrong with him?" Grandfather asked.
"It is just the way he is"
"Does he eat sausage?"
"No sausage!"
"No. He says he does not eat sausage."
"In truth?"
"That is what he says."
"But sausage..."
"I know."
"In truth you do not eat any sausage?"
"No sausage."
"No sausage," I told Grandfather. He closed his eyes and tried to put his arms around his stomach, but there was not room because of the wheel. It appeared like he was becoming sick because the Hero would not eat sausage. "Well, let him deduce what he is going to eat. We will go to the most proximal restaurant."
"You are a schmuch" I informed the Hero.
"You are not using the word correctly,", he said.
"Yes I am," I said.

"What do you mean he does not eat meat?" the waitress asked, and Grandfather put his head in his hands. "What is wrong with him?" she asked.
"Which? The one who does not eat mean, the one with his head in his hands, or the bitch who is masticating her tail?"
"The one who does not eat meat."
"It is only the way that he is." The hero asked what we were talking about.
"They do not have anything without meat," I informed him.
"He does not eat any meat at all?" she inquired me again.
"It is merely the way he is," I told her.
"No sausage," Grandfather answered to the waitress, rotating his head from here to there.
"Maybe you could eat some meat" I suggested to the hero, "because they do not have anything that is not meat."
"Don't they have potatoes or something?" he asked.
"Do you have potatoes?" I asked the waitress. "Or something"
"You only receive a potato with the meat," she said. I told the hero.
"Couldn't I just get a plate of potatoes?"
"Couldn't I get two or three potatoes, without meat?"
I asked the waitress, and she said she would go to the chef and inquire him.
"Ask him if he eats liver," Grandfather said.

The waitress returned and said, "Here is what I have to say. We can make concessions to give him two potatoes, but they are served with a piece of meat on the plate. The chef says that this cannot be negotiated. He will have to eat it."
"Two potatoes fine?" I asked the hero.
"Oh, that would be great"
Grandfather and I both ordered the pork steak, and ordered one for Sammy Davis, Junior, Junior as well, who was becoming sociable with the hero's leg.

Everything Is Illuminated, by Jonathan Safran Foer

I started reading this book a week ago, and am really getting into it now! I found this passage really rather funny, and familiar at the same time, after some of my previous debacles in Prague. Which is particularly appropriate to mention, now that I have just booked a flight to Budapest for late November, and expect to go through a similar trial when my friends inevitably drag me to one of the more traditional restaurants that Hungary has to offer.

Incidentally, my boss is from Hungary, and had a great(!) story to tell of one of his experiences of eating our there with a vegetarian. Him and some colleagues, including the poor unsuspecting veggie guy, had a table booked in one such traditional restaurant. On arrival, to the guy's horror, goose was the only thing on the menu. Goose pie, goose steak, goose soup. You name it, it was made out of goose. So when the vegetarian asked the waiter if there was anything at all that he could have, the waiter went away and asked the chef, and came back excitedly, saying that it could be done. Eventually, the food was bought out, and it turned out that the chef's idea of a good dish suitable for such a diet was some bread soaked in goose fat.

Anyway, read the book! Its great - a really compelling mixture of humour, mystery, tragedy and love.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Social Food

I like food as much as the next guy, but more often than not, I find myself throwing my ingredients into a saucepan with only my hunger to drive me. Sometimes I won't have even decided what the final meal will be until half way through cooking it, as they all start of the same, relying only on the herbs/spices and the staple they are served with to define them. Cooking for one just isn't very inspiring!

So when I get the chance to cook for friends or family, I always jump at the chance! Having real people appreciate your food is a lot like giving presents at Christmas - you get that same warm and fuzzy feeling of satisfaction, any time of the year.

Yesterday it was sunny enough to coax me outside, and I ended up walking along the canal for about an hour, ending up in the neighbouring town. The local fruit and veg market was on, and I couldn't resist - I ended up buying kilos of tomatoes, avocadoes, courgettes, mushrooms, strawberries, cherries and a couple of interesting breads that I've never tried before - chive ciabatta and a rustic looking round loaf of sourdough.


One of my oldest friends was back here for the weekend (known him since I was 3!), so I invited him and his girlfriend over for dinner. There was only one thing I knew to do with a kilo of tomatoes, so pasta it was. To go with it, I roasted some mushrooms, an onion, courgette, and marinated tofu in the oven, and also toasted some of my ciabatta bread. It was a feast, (ie I was stuffed!).

A close second place to cooking for other people, is being fed by other people. This is a much rarer event, as most non-vegans are usually fairly convinced that without their favourite ingrediants, food is impossible to make. I'd probably be the same if I had to cater for someone on an even more resrictive diet: "How can I cook anything without heat?! Here have some lettuce" I would say to a raw vegan...!

Anyway, the other day, one of the veggie guys at work took the vegan challenge and had a couple of people round for dinner. He did very well! Potato and leek soup for a starter, vegan burger, with roasted potatoes and parsnips, brocoli, cauliflower and spinach, and a kind of nut roast. It reminded me of a typical Christmas meal in my parents house! And as if that wasn't enough, there was also dessert:

Oat Cookies
Some oat cookies I made earlier in the morning for everyone, loosely based on VCon's Chewy Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies, which went down well, and also:

Grape Risotto Dessert
Which we also made earlier that day, from my friend's German cookbook. I couldn't read any of the recipe, or even the name of it, so she had to translate it for me as we cooked it. It was a kind of sweet lemony rice pudding, with grapes and pine nuts. I was sceptical at first, as it sounded very bizarre, but I was pleasently surprised! The lemon counteracted the sweetness of the risotto rice quite well, and any recipe that involves a bottle of wine in the making can't be that bad!

Saturday, August 2, 2008


Programming doesn't sound particularly creative does it? But working in the games industry sometimes surprises me with opportunities to release my creative side. In a way, games programming is a lot like cooking - creating something fun from pretty much nothing. The satisfaction I get from getting my friends to play my latest game, or eat my food is all I need to make it totally worth it!

Somewhere inside me is an artist trapped, and trying to escape, inspired by such creative blogs as Hannah's, and random friends who like to make their own clothes. A while back, fuelled by this inspiration, I invested in some new tools to help turn a ball of wool into whatever my imagination demanded, and started to learn the basics. Several weeks later, this is what I ended up with:

Crochet Cat

Crochet Cat

Crochet Cat

Any budding crochetters can find the recipe here: Melon Ball the Kitty. He's the only thing I've made so far, and made a nice present for the same person who encouraged me to try out crochet in the first place.

Making such personalised presents for people is also really satisfying, so I didn't stop there - for my sister's birthday, I managed to make these funky pillows:


I'm looking forward to my next crafty adventure!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My New Favourite Rock

Returning from Ibiza, I bought with me a mere two souvenirs - a stick, and a rock. I feel more compelled to talk about the rock, as its not just any old rock. (Although I did find it on the beach). Its my new multi-purpose kitchen tool.

I've found it to be useful breaking up giant bricks of frozen chickpeas into more manageable sizes, pounding whole spices into dust, hammering nails into walls, and most recently, reducing linseeds into powder in under 10 seconds flat. Which is a lot speedier than last time. So with the help of my new igneous friend, I whipped up a batch of quinoa muffins in whirlwind speeds, and they turned out great!

What other applications will I find for my rock I wonder? I bet it would make a great cookbook-keeper-opener...

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Having to wake up at 2 in the morning, it hardly seemed worth going to bed at all. I was tempted to play computer games into the early hours of the morning, knowing that it would be the last opportunity for a whole fortnight, but a small part of my brain must've kicked in at around 10, overriding my sense of tiredness, and before long, I was fast asleep.

San Antonio Bay

Fast forward 24 hours, and here we are, sat in an Indian restaurant in a different time zone. My first impression of the island was much the same as what I expected: shops selling beach gear, English pubs, and of course, lots of tourists. The whole metropolis seemed to have been built for the sole purpose of catering for travellers, but at that point, being catered for was exactly what we needed. No matter where you are in the world, you can almost always rely on Indian cuisine to feed a pack of hungry vegans, providing they A. Cook it themselves, and B. Understand what the hell you are talking about, and luckily the place we had stumbled across seemed to fit the bill.

Your average Curry

This particular plate of food was nothing to write home about, (you may even wonder why I'm even writing about it at all...) But I managed to get a non-blurred photo of it, which is more than I can say for some of the others, which were mostly gobbled up so quickly that by time I thought about taking a photo, the empty plates had already been take away.

We sampled food in every Indian restaurant that we found (which oddly wasn't that many), although one of them we wish we hadn't. The scenario will be all too familiar to your average vegan. We arrived at the Curry Club, and were drawn in by the impressive garden that we would get to sit in. However when they bought out our food, my spider sense started to tingle. The bowl of insipid green sludge descended onto our table like a dark cloud, and after exchanging looks of suspicion, I began to probe the sorry excuse for a curry with my spoon. The consistency and appearance of pesto and its dubious aroma confirmed my suspicions, but it was too late for my parents, who had carelessly doled it out onto their plates. The waiter assured us that it was fine, but I knew from years of cooking experience that they would have had to work very hard to produce such food without the aid of an awful lot of dairy products. Needless to say, it ruined the meal.

After that, we tried several pizza restaurants out, and no one had a problem producing a cheese free pizza, but in general we tried to steer clear of gluten-filled dishes (Mum's preference). For lunch, it was mostly home-made sandwiches made from pumpernickel bread, rather than the freshly baked baguettes whose scent filled the air around the local grocery shops. Not that I minded - I love the taste of rye bread, providing that the rye flavour hasn't been usurped by caraway seeds.

Out of all the restaurants we had stumbled across that could make a worthy meal for us, not many were left once bread-based foods were removed from the equation. In fact, it pretty much just left curry.

More Curry

So for a bit of a change, I made a meal back in the apartment. Creating a meal out of nothing was indeed quite a feat, as there was no oil to fry in, no condiments (save a couple of sachets of black pepper saved from a previous holiday), and no herbs. Improvisation was on the menu.

Cooking in the Apartment

Amazingly it turned out to be quite tasty indeed! I managed to fry up some onions in enough crushed garlic to sink a city full of vampires, threw in some courgettes, a red bell pepper, some unduly expensive mushrooms, and a jar of some unidentified precooked white beans, and simmered the whole lot in some tomato juice. I even managed a side-dish of fried tofu pieces, as I had previously found some plain firm tofu on sale, which I had pressed dry, and then marinated in the juice from a jar of artichokes, some wild rosemary and more garlic.

On our last day, we found the most amazing town, called Sant Joan, which for some reason had been populated by an unusual amount of German hippies. A good handful of vegan-friendly restaurants and shops had sprung up here, which was a very welcome sight! I bought myself a cute little almond macaroon from one place, a nice treat, but the best place was called ECO, which from the outside looked like any other shop, but inside, was a little health food store, and hidden in the back, a restaurant called "ACT".

Vege-Burger Meal
Home Made Vegi-Burger and Chips

Dragon Bowl
Dragon Bowl (Disclaimer: No dragons went into the production of this meal)

Thai Noodles with Peanut Sauce
Thai Style Rice Noodles - Tofu, Peanuts and Coriander Phad Thai

Excitedly we took up positions and put in our orders from the friendly German guy with impressively long dreadlocks. We each opted for something different, and it took the chef guy a while to sort them all out (we could see him slaving away in the kitchen!), but when the food came, we were all pretty impressed! My choice was the Thai noodles, which was really rich and filling, with a nice crunch from all of the various sprouts (the lemon wedge was quite welcome, to even out the sweetness of the dish). Not much to say for the Vegi-Burger, but the Dragon Bowl from their specials menu was delicious! Jasmine rice, with a coconut curry, loads of fried tofu, and even more tempeh!! (I've never seen anywhere that had tempeh on the menu!), and a healthy dose of sprouts/raw veg on top.

ABC Juice

On top of all that, we managed to fit in a glass of "ABC" juice: A smoothie made from apple, beetroot and carrots, with a bit of raw ginger thrown in as well.

All in all, the island surpassed my expectations. Yeah, it had its fair share of drunk English tourists, and it had a good deal of characterless Wimpy Bar style bars with plastic furniture, but on the whole, all of that was localised to one area. Most of the other towns were typically Spanish, where we found a lot of culture, with local crafts such as basket weaving and pottery still being practised. I was even inspired to one day retire from the world of computers, and start up my own vegan café there, as there was definitely a gap in the market.

Nautically Themed Bar, Sant Vincent

Footnote: the island was Ibiza

Tuesday, May 20, 2008



Eeekk, its been far too long since my last entry! And I'm still without a proper camera - so these blurry grainy mobile phone pics will have to do. As you may have already guessed, sushi was on the menu at the weekend, and despite being a big fan of Japanese culture, I've never really succeeded in making proper sushi... Until now!

Sushi Chef

Okay, so I had the help of some sushi masters. We even had a rice cooker to cook the rice to perfection! There were all sorts of fillings, ranging from the traditional avocado and pepper, to the more unusual tofu and grapes! I cooked up some tempeh with a bit of homemade tofu dip, which made quite a juicy filling. The recipe came from the "Spicy Tempeh Rolls", in my newly acquired copy of Veganomicon!

Dinner Table

To go with all the sushi, one of the guys cooked up a giant pan of Soba noodles. These are Japanese noodles made from buckwheat, traditionally served cold with a dipping sauce, so that's how we had 'em. The plate on the bottom right was a bit of an imposter, and was actually a Korean dish called Kimchi, a kind of spicy fermented cabbage (Korea's version of Sauerkraut), and was tasty, although a bit too salty for me. Also from my new cookbook, I grilled some asian-style marinated tofu, which turned out really well, even though the smoke alarm disagreed.

Bowl of Leftovers

And there were plenty of leftovers, so for work the next day, I got to show-off with an extremely colourful lunchbox. I was certainly the envy of my team that day!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Das Abendessen

This week has been packed full of culinary adventures, with more tasty curries served up to friends, now I'm getting into the swing of having people round for dinner. But cooking for others is nowhere near as fun as combining our cooking skills and helping to make dinner together. It then becomes more of a social activity, rather than an essential part of eating, and is exactly what we did on Monday.

We set off to make two meals, but in the end, the first one was enough for us - wild mushrooms in a cream sauce, with cous cous. This is the first time I've ever used soya cream in cooking, and I've got to say I was impressed! It deserved a photo, but I'm still without my camera. I would've also liked to post the recipe, but it came out of a German cookbook, and I only got a rough translation! It went something like this:

Roast some cashew nuts
Fry wild mushrooms in oil
In a separate pan, fry some garlic
Make a basil paste with fresh basil, olive oil and water, then add this to the garlic
Add the cooked mushrooms to the basil
Add a carton of soya cream and 1 tbsp english mustard, and simmer till reduced
Season, and serve on cous cous, topped with cashews

It was delicious! Hopefully later this week we'll have a go at the main meal that we were going to do, and this time I'll try and get a proper translation, and some pics.

Okay, here's five things you probably never knew about me:

1. I make computer games for the Xbox 360 and PS3, which is a long way away from where I started out programming, on a graphical calculator in my maths lessons.

2. I have always wanted to move to Japan - their culture fascinates me, although their food does not.

3. I've never been to a hairdresser. (This might change soon though - it really is getting too long).

4. Broccoli and aubergine are amongst my favourite vegetables; okra and bitter melon are my worst.

5. Me and my sister once made experimental ice cubes with milk, marmite and black pepper. They were pretty gross, but apparently not quite bad enough to chuck in the bin - we had to have them in our tea...!

Thanks to DJ (The Skint Vegan) for the tag.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Well, I've had some mega down time in the blogging world, and indeed the internet in general, on account of some extremely inconvenient moving of house. On top of that, I've only got my mobile phone to take photos on at the moment, so my photos don't really do the food justice! I'm going to buy a shiny new Canon G9 to replace my beloved 1 megapixel A10 (RIP!).

So there are my poor excuses for not keeping up to date! I've only cooked a few meals at my new house, but a very welcome addition of a gas stove to the kitchen has put a lot of excitement into cooking with my cast iron pan! I'm convinced food tastes better if cooked on a gas stove.

I've had a pretty busy couple of week, but one particular day was notable in the food department, as one of my good friends made me dinner. Not many non-veggie people know how to cook up something tasty and vegan, and so having friends cook for me is quite a rare experience. I think she did a pretty good job of cooking up a pasta bake - she'd even gone to the trouble of buying some "super melting" vegan cheese to put on top, but as you can imagine, it refused to melt, as is the tradition with pseudo cheese. For dessert, we had strawberries and grapes, with some soy yoghurt, which I think proved that not all vegan alternatives are as bad as soya cheese!

The following day, I returned the favour, and made us a curry. Curry is my speciality - I live on curries!


1 tsp Whole Coriander Seeds
1/4 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
1/4 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 tbsp Sunflower Oil
1/2 Red Chilli
1 Onion
1 Carrot
1 Potato
1/4 inch Ginger, peeled
1 tbsp Garam Masala
5 Brussel Sprouts
1 cup of Broccoli
1/2 Courgette
3 tbsp Tomato Puree
1 tsp Dark Miso
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup Frozen Peas
1/4 Red Bell Pepper
1 cup of Spinach
Small Pinch of salt

Heat up large cast iron pan, and dry roast the coriander, fenugreek and cumin seeds for about 2 minutes, until they start releasing their aroma, then transfer seeds to pestle and mortar for a good bashing.

Heat up oil in pan, and add onions and chilli, and cook for 3 minutes, with powdered seeds. Add root vegetables and finely chopped ginger, Garam Masala, and sprouts (quartered). Carry on cooking on a fairly high heat. If it gets a bit dry (which it will) add a 1/2 cup of water, and carry on stirring; as its a cast iron pan, you don't have to worry much about things sticking. If it dries out again, add a few more splashes of water. Continue cooking for 5 mins.

Add the broccoli and courgette, tomato puree and a few more splashes of water if needed, along with the Miso, which should help thicken up the curry. Simmer for another 15 mins, adding more water if necessary to get the right consistency. Add the peas, spinach and garlic, and season if needed.

Serve and enjoy!

I love how dark this curry gets, all the iron-y goodness going into the food, but you can't taste it. I managed to find some suitable naan bread in the local supermarket to accompany the meal, which turned out to be really nice! I also cooked up a pot of rice, but I'm so used to cooking for one, that I forgot to double the quantity of water...! Oops! I wish I had have got a photo of the smoothie that she made whilst I was doing the curry - it was so green! Spinach, ice, orange juice, tomatoes and cucumber. It tasted healthy :)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Food from the Heart

Spring is almost on the verge of making an appearance. The sun is reaching higher and higher into the sky, with every day that passes, and mornings are no longer met with the dismal grey fog, but the sound of birds going about their daily business. Flowers are peeking their heads above the ground, starting to fill the air with their sweet scent.
Signs of Spring

I spent a good few hours photosynthesising in the park today. Sat on a park bench, absorbing all that the sun had to offer. I could've stayed there for hours, but alas there was work to do - it was time to focus all my sun-inspired energy into the kitchen.

I had decided to partake in Susan's Vegetable Love challenge. The rules were simple - come up with a recipe for a dish of seductive vegetables. A dish that says "I love you, but I don't want to see you keel over with a heart attack!". A quick bit of research on goggle had led me to a list of food related to valentine's, and so I started to design my dish.

One quick trip to the greengrocers later, and it was time to make Roasted Asparagus, with Fruity Rocket Salad

Quinoa with Asparagus

Quinoa and asparagus
I served up my vegetables with a healthy portion of quinoa.

Rocket and Fruit Salad

Roasted Vegetables with Rocket Salad

For the vegetables:-
10 spears of Asparagus
1 Courgette (Zucchini), sliced lengthways
1 Carrot, sliced lengthways
2 Portobello mushrooms (or field mushrooms), sliced 1cm thick
2 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Vegan Margarine
2 Tsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tsp Dark Soya Sauce

Steam carrot for 5 mins, then add asparagus and steam for a further 3 minutes. Meanwhile, put the mushrooms, courgette and garlic into a large casserole dish, and add the olive oil. Add the steamed vegetables, and mix to make sure everything is covered in oil (add more if necessary), the put the dish into oven, and cook for 15 minutes at 200 C, stirring now and again.

Whilst the vegetables are roasting, make the dressing - simply melt the margarine in a pan, and then add the balsamic vinegar and soya sauce. When finished cooking, and the asparagus is tender and starting to brown, take the casserole dish out of the oven, and pour the dressing on. Return to the oven (now off) and leave until ready to serve.

Rocket and Fruit Salad

For the salad:-
3 cups of Rocket
1 cup of Spinach
1/2 cup Raspberries
1/2 cup Strawberries (halved and stem removed)
2 Fresh Figs
1 Avocado, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup Pine Nuts
Juice of an Orange

Wilt the spinach (in the casserole dish for five minutes should do the job). Prepare the avocado. After slicing, pour over the orange juice, so it doesn't start to brown. Once the avocado is coated in juice, drain and reserve the juice. We will use it in the dressing later. Add all the other fruit to the salad bowl. Add the rocket and wilted spinach. Transfer all the roasted vegetables to plates, reserving any liquid at the bottom of the casserole dish. Combine this liquid with the orange juice, then pour over the salad. Toss, and finally sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts.

Serve with love.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Memories Of A Mango

Its been five days since we were unpacked from our shipping crates. Such a relief to be in the open air again - there was barely enough room to swing a coconut in my crate, and I had to spend the entire trip squashed up against mouldy joe. We're all OK now though, sat in nice neat rows opposite the pineapples and oranges *waves*

Still here! I don't know where joe go to though... Bit bored to tell you the truth, I'd much rather be back in the Indies, ripening in the warm sunshine. This England place is cold! brrrrr!

Its awful! Me and two others were sold today, and taken back to a house, where I witnessed one of the others being flayed alive, and fried with garlic! I tried yelling at the top of my voice, but only my sweet pheromones came out.

Naked mango

Who would do such a thing! I don't know what is to happen to me but I fear the worst!

Melon Meal With Falafels

I watched as the cleaver neared me, frozen with terror. The last thing I remember seeing before the blade struck down on me were those little blue faces peering down from a nearby bowl, then I must've blacked out.

Mango, Blueberries and cranberries

Mango, Blueberries and cranberries

I awoke today with an odd feeling. Am I still here... wherever here is exactly, I don't even know...!? It sure is dark - is this the fabled melon paradise, where the others told me joe ended up? Not very paradise-y I've got to admit. The only thing I could sense was a feint noise in the distance; the quietest of murmuring that seemed somehow familiar. Could I be imagining things, or was it the sound of my two good friends..?

I thought about it for a moment, then spoke:

(muffled) hello!? who's there??!
its me!!!!
hey! you made it too!!

Mango Seed

Well, you live and learn I guess, its all part of the growing experience.