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.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

London, Baby!

Someone else's birthday is definitely cause for celebration, and a couple of days ago, one such event was brewing down in London. I knew I wanted to bake some sort of sweet treat to take with me, but after my cake shenanigans, I thought it would probably be best to make something I'd made before, something that had turned out good.

Therefore, it was time for another batch of Korova Cookies. This time, I measured out everything with surgical precision, with my new set of spoons. I even used the correct ingredients this time, with no substitutions (except for my carob bits!). The end result was a cookie even more delicious than I thought possible. I had a go at making icing to go on top of these cookies, but I didn't have the right kind of sugar, so it didn't work too well; well enough to stick my chocolate buttons (aptly named "whizzers") to the top.

Korova Cookies Revisited

London is a great place to discover new fooderies, especially around Soho. I took my camera with me with the intention of trying out as many of them as possible, and posting some of the photos here. Unfortunately, every time a bought myself a plate of delicious food, I completely forgot about my camera and all that was on my mind was devouring the food!

Beetroot was first on the agenda. Usually I like to get myself a box of food from here, but I am always too full afterwards for desserts, so on this day, I went straight for the chocolate cake, and a cup of soya chai to wash it down with. The chocolate sauce topping the cake was gorgeous, although the cake itself wasn't as good as I'd hoped, tasting a bit too salty (the now familiar sign of too much chemical leavening).

Chips in the Montague Pike were certainly nothing to write home about, so moving swiftly on to my evening meal, I opted for an all-vegan Tai buffet. This food is about as filling as it gets - for £4 you can pile on the tofu until you can barely move. Bargain. The curry dishes all tasted pretty much the same - there are only so many ways you can dress up tofu and TVP. I've got to admit I'm not even a fan of giant lumps of protein, especially when they have been doused in soya sauce for hours. Too salty for my taste.

Another place I visited during my weekend was Vita Organic. This was a new venue for me, as I didn't even realise it was suitable until I asked, but everything there was delicious - lots of nice chunky vegetable dishes, albeit quite pricey.

I didn't make it to Mildred's, which is a shame, as it was the main one I wanted to try out. I also didn't get time to sample any of the goods at Neil's Yard.

On the cooking front, I've made a couple of dishes in the last week, including an this impromptu curry.
Impromptu Curry

Today I went to a cook shop that I've never seen before, and found myself a nice cast iron pan for a bargain price of only £10! Not bad for a couple of kilos metal. I tried it just now, to make Isa's Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy, to go with some spinichey garlicky mashed potatoes, and some fried mushrooms and courgettes. I was expecting everything to taste of rust, but luckily it all tasted fine. It didn't look pretty though, so I didn't bother with a photo!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Cake Wars: Attack Of The Cupcake

It was all going so well in the kitchen. Saturday morning, I woke up bright and early, and skipped down to town to buy some veggies from the local grocery store, then happily bounced my way to the bookstore. Browsing through the cookbooks, to my delight, I spotted a single copy of Vegan With A Vengeance - I snapped it up lovingly, and carried on walking gleefully around town.

Flicking through my shiny new cookbook for ideas of things to cook, (and the ingredients I would need to buy), I decided on scrambled tofu for lunch, also then saw the recipe for Blueberry Coffee Cake, which sounded so delicious that I would have to make it immediately! So I set off to buy the things I would need.

Scrambled tofu is pretty hard to get wrong. Even frying tofu, mushrooms and onions with a bit of tamari tastes pretty good, so I wasn't surprised that my first dish from the cookbook was quite good.

Scrambled Tofu with Toast

Afterwards, it was cake time. Flour...measure...soya milk, ok...soya yogurt, check. All was going well. Baking powder...seems like a lot, but ok....check. I filled my cake tin with the mixture. Hmm, seemed pretty full, but it wasn't going anywhere. I proceeded to make the walnut topping....but something was wrong. I had created my breadcrumbs, and was ready to add the walnuts, but the ratio of breadcrumbs to walnuts seemed very wrong. I had almost a full cereal bowl of breadcrumbs, and only a handful of nuts. In the back of my mind, I knew something was definitely amiss, but I carried on, and put the finished cake into the oven.

And waited. 45 minutes later, I came back to my cake, as instructed, toothpick at the ready, but to my horror...

Baking cake disaster cake had grown into a giant muffin!

Reeling from the sight of such a monstrosity, I slowly edged forwards and probed it with my stick. The stick vanished into the cake with no effort at all, and when I pulled it out, some of the doughy cake monster was still attached, topping and all. Radical action had to be taken - I whacked the temperature up as high as it would go, in an attempt to petrify the beast. Another 20 minutes of probing, and finally it was done. The topping was charred and my nice expensive walnuts had been reduced to ash. The ones that had managed to survive the incineration, buried beneath the floury rubble on top of the cake tasted like popcorn.

Upside-down giant cupcake?

What had gone wrong? I immediately consulted the PPK forums for answers. It turns out that Americans don't use the same sized spoons as the British. Maybe because we drink so much tea, its more efficient to use a bigger teaspoon, I don't know. And the tablespoons I grew up with were more like serving spoons, akin to a ladle. Either way, I think I must have put waaaaaaay too much baking powder in it, as it tasted kinda salty...

Today, on the top of my list of things to do was to go to the cooking store and buy a new "tool"


Hopefully I will be able to measure out American quantities with confidence now (better stop using my mug to measure out cups as well I guess).

I'd like to say that I'll be getting straight back onto the baking wagon, but first I've got a giant 10 kilo blueberry flavoured cupcake to get through.

A slice of the action

Friday, January 11, 2008

Quinoa, in a Muffin!!!!!

I've been desperate to try out my shiny new recipe ever since it arrived in my inbox! A muffin, made from quinoa?? Sounds like a winner, and the results have previously been shown to look delicious.

First things first though. A quinoay dinner was on the horizon, so I scoured the PPK site for a suitable dish to make. In the end, I settled on Alreda Sauce, so that I could give my new tub of nooch a real test run. After combining the sauce with some quinoa I prepared some potatoes and a pepper for stuffing. After a quick session in the oven, the result was pretty pleasing.

Stuffed potatoes and pepper

After dinner, it was straight back to the kitchen for the muffins. The first thing I needed was flax powder...All I had was a bag of whole black linseeds and it turns out, linseed is a hard nut to crack. You'd think a cast iron pestle and mortar would make short work of these tiny seeds, but you'd be wrong, (as I was). Almost an hour of hammering it took me to make an impression...eventually, teaspoon at a time, I finally reduced my seeds to dust. I'm fairly sure that a good amount of iron made it into the mix as well - these little guys are as hard as nails.

Making a meal out of linseeds
Making a right meal out of the linseed

All the hard work paid off in the end though, as the muffins were great! I was a little concerned once they had gone into the oven, as the aroma was a very familiar one, which I usually only expect when I'm making a curry, but before long, the sweet cinnamon flavours were filling the kitchen.

Quinoa muffins

Thanks to Ruby Red Vegan for sending me the muffin recipe!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Cookie Cravings

After a hard day's work, a cookie is always welcome. Cookies can work miracles. They even make the world go round. So after stumbling upon the BitterSweet blog, I was eager to find a nice easy cookie recipe that even I could make! And I did!

Here's my attempt at the Peace Cookies, with a few modifications - I didn't have any dark sugar, so I used 1 tablespoon of molasses instead, and I also used carob shards instead of the chocolate pieces. I had to use a splash of rice milk to coax the cookie mixture into a dough too, but that was probably my fault for not knowing how to measure stuff in cups.

Korova Cookies

Wow what a treat they are! The molasses did change the flavour of the cookies, but they still tasted nice to me, and certainly added to their nutritional value.

Yum! Thanks to Hannah for that recipe!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Tempeh, Isa Style

Today I was feeling adventurous, and went and bought a whole bunch of things I've never used before. I've been searching for nutritional yeast flakes (aka nooch!) for ages now, and finally found a pot of it! It looks like a pot of tiny cornflakes. My new tempeh looks pretty odd too. Once out of its packet, it smells pretty odd too... But I thought I'd give it a go anyway, and so armed with Isa's recipe for Tempeh Sausage Crumbles, I fired up the stove and started chopping. To go with my tempeh, I whipped up a batch of pasta, and a pot of Mushroom Marinara Sauce, another of Isa's recipes.

Mushroom Marinara Pasta With Tempeh

It probably would've tasted better had I not been looking at the spice list for the tempeh dish whilst I was making the pasta sauce - it came out pretty fennel-y! I've yet to be won over in the nooch department - maybe I need to try mac+cheese, once I find out what the hell it is!

I'm looking forward to my next cooking adventure - I'm determined to make something that uses my new ingredients that I bought: Apricots, molasses, almond flour and carob pieces! Should I jump on the cookie bandwagon, or join the cupcake revolution. .. (or perhaps a quinoa cake?!)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Quinoa Salad with Oyster Mushrooms and Avocado

Right then, down to business. After some recent inspiration, it occurred to me that eating potato curry everyday is not as satisfying as it used to be! Its time to try something different. Something new. Something that is quite likely to go wrong!

So here it is, recipe adapted from Rose Elliot's Vegan Feast.


Gomasio is a Japanese seasoning that is quite nice as a healthy substitute for salt. Usually made by dry-roasting sesame seeds until golden, and then seasoning with a tiny bit of salt. For this dish, I'll try something a bit different!

2tsp sesame seeds
2tsp pumpkin seeds
2tsp sunflower seeds
A splash of dark soy sauce

Dry roast the sesame seeds in a hot pan for about 2 minutes, then add the pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Roast for a further minute or so, until the sesame start to turn brown (be quick to reduce heat - within seconds they go from a beautiful golden brown, to a somewhat unappetising black)
Add the splash of soy, and stir in. Remove from heat and let cool.

1/2 cup dry quinoa, washed
1 cup water
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cup oyster mushrooms
1/2 cup buttom mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Black pepper
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1 avocado, prepared and sliced
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 red pepper, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
Chopped parsley and chives

Cook quinoa with 1 cup of water in a small pot, bring to a boil then cover and simmer over low heat until soft, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile saute the mushrooms and garlic in olive oil for about 4 mins. Season with black pepper. Toss the avocado in the lemon juice (to stop it from turning a mangy brown colour and ruining the photo!). Finally, steam the broccoli for 6 minutes. Combine the cooked quinoa, the mushrooms, avocado, broccoli, red pepper and herbs together, and top with the roasted seeds.


The good thing about this dish is you can make a cauldron full, and make it last a long time! Its good hot or cold, so if you feeling especially lazy one day, you wouldn't even need to reheat those left overs that are still in the saucepan. And unlike rice, I don't even need to worry about poisoning myself! Yey!

Of course I won't get to test that theory, as hopefully I'll be making something different and exciting, a lot more often! So I'll leave it upto one of the lucky readers to tell me how long a bowl of this stuff lasts, before sprouting legs and running away.

Quinoa Salad

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


I've just been surfing the web, and come across a whole world of vegan bloggers! So, in the spirit of blogging, and vegans, and also because theres nothing on tv, I thought I'd fill out this survey :)

1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
Alpro soya is my favourite, but the Tesco's own is cheaper, so I usually have that instead. I've also started getting into my rice dream, although its far from pleasant in tea :(

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
Chocolate and brandy truffle torte, off the back of a Viva Veggie leaflet. Although I'm not sure if I could bring myself to use 4 and a half bars of chocolate AND a pot of glucose syrup in just one dish!
Also, a japanese buckwheat noodle soup with tofu and broccoli
And lastly, some sort of cookies!

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?
Usually a tiny bit of salt, but I'm interested to try these yeast flakes on it - sounds intriguing.

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?
I tried making icecubes with my sister when I was little, with marmite and milk, which you can imagine were pretty nasty, but mum made us use them up in our tea!

5. Favorite pickled item?
Pickled onions, or chilis. I don't tend to eat pickles much though, as I can feel them dissolving my teeth...

6. How do you organize your recipes?
I've got a bunch of loose bits of paper, a few books, a few leaflets, and theres a few on this laptop. So, not very well, is probably the answer.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?
Trash or the recycling bucket.

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods...what would they be (don't worry about how you'll cook them)?
Broccoli, basmatti rice and a bag of mixed nuts/seeds.

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
Making bread buns with sisters on a pull-out table surface - getting to choose the shape of the buns, and then the smell of the baking bread...!

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
I'm not an ice cream person - too cold for my teeth!

11. Most loved kitchen appliance?
Knife. Can't do much without one of those, and I've got a nice razor sharp japanese chopper.

12. Spice/herb you would die without?
Garam massala. Even the simplest of foods are made tasty with this. It can turn "stewed onions", into "5 minute curry".

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
Rose Elliot's Vegan Feasts. Stayed faithful with this book all through uni. The fruit cake is especially fun, with its strangely effective vinegar to make it raise.

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?
Blueberry spread. Jam is too sweet, and jelly is just wrong.

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
Potato curry, 'cause its the only thing I know I can do well, although I've almost got my chocolate/expresso cake up to a reasonable standard.

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?
Tofu. Never tried seitan and only tempeh once, but would like to use them more to see what they are capable of.

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?
6pm. I'm a dinner person.

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?
Some empty tupperware.

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
Frozen peas from the previous tenant. And some of my housemate's random frozen lumps of stuff. Ohhh i saw a stalegmite growing in there earlier. I don't really use the freezer.

20. What's on your grocery list?
Quinoa (inspired after reading ruby red vegan's post and seeing the picture.
Also either some "Good Oil" (hemp oil) or linseed oil, as I hear its pretty healthy.

21. Favorite grocery store?
I'd like to say Gaia, the local health store, but its too expensive for me, so Tesco...

22. Name a recipe you'd love to veganize, but haven't yet.
Ramen. Naruto always eats it and it looks pretty darn good.

23. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa's because I know you check it everyday). Or maybe the top 3?
I've only just discovered the world of food blogging, but so far I've enjoyed (and subscribed to!) these:
Vegetable Japan
Ruby Red Vegan

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
Greens+blacks ginger. The darker the better, but this one with the added ginger mmmmmmm. The Maya version (orange+spices) is a close second, with the regular plain dark as a runner up.

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
I shop for my food on the cheap, so it was probably an aubergine.

26. Worst three vegetables?
Okra! Whoever thought eating a chewy mucusy gross vegetable shaped like a ladies finger was a good idea?!
Bitter melon! I got a can of these from an asian supermaket the other day, and they were probably the vilest things I've ever had the displeasure of ruining my meal with. I later read that the seeds in these things were actually pretty toxic, and known to induce all kinds of badness, which is probably why they tasted so bad...
Grapefruit. Okay, not a vegetable, but there's something about them that isn't quite right.