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Vegan Sunday Roast

I found this recipe a while back and have since adapted it to make it way better.

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It’s simple to make and seriously delicious. It fits perfectly with roast potatoes, steamed veg, probably yorkshires if you’re vegetarian.

Even my Mum loves this. She admitted she would rather have had this than the pork she had made that evening!

Anyway, here’s the how-to;

1 red onion
1 block of Dragonfly original tofu (I’ve used Cauldron and one I picked up from Sainsburys. They both sucked and went all mushy. Use Dragonfly.)
3tbsp sesame oil
3 cloves of crushed garlic
1 cal olive oil spray
1tbsp sesame seeds
Mushrooms the amount you use is down to your discretion. I love mushrooms so I tend to use a whole 120g pack since they shrink when cooked
Pinch of salt and pepper

Marinade;
You need to make two sets of marinade to baste with twice, so divide the ingredients between two small bowls
2x 1tbsp tahini
2x 1tbsp soy sauce/tamari
2x 2tbsp agave nectar
2x 1/2 tsp vinegar

1) Cut the block of tofu into cubes, about 1cm. Slice the red onion into relatively (but not too) thin circles and break up.

2) In an oven proof dish, add the tofu, onion slices, crushed garlic, sesame oil and salt and pepper. Give it a good stir and make sure every chunk of tofu is totally coated. Put it in the oven at about 180c for around 20 minutes or until the tofu has a nice golden edge.

3) While the tofu is in the oven, make the marinade sauce in two separate small bowls. Just mix all the ingredients together.

4) When the tofu is nice and golden, take it out of the oven and coat it with one set of marinade.

5) Leave the tofu to soak up the marinade while you slice the mushrooms. Lay them out on a baking tray and spray them with 1 cal spray until they’re all covered. Bake them in the oven until soft.

6) Take the mushrooms out and add them to the tofu and marinade. Stir them about until they’re coated. Put the tofu back in the oven for another 20 minutes on 150c.

7) Take the tofu back out again and cover it with the second lot of marinade. By now they should be quite sticky. You only need to pop it back in the oven for another 10 minutes, but before you do that, sprinkle the dish with sesame seeds.

That’s it. I can’t stress how delicious this is. I make it every Sunday if I’m not at work! If you do get round to trying it, let me know what you thought!

2

Baked Tofu is the S@!$

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I decided that this year I wasn’t going to eat any of the prepacked vegan substitutes that were laced with wheat protein, which is when I realised that I was going to have to make friends with the dreaded tofu.

Tofu and I never got along. I hated the stuff, but I was determined to make this relationship work, so I’ve been experimenting.

Vegans; you’ll love this.

Quorn lovers; stop. Try this instead

Ingredients:

1 pack of Dragonfly organic original tofu
3 tbsp soy sauce (Tamari if you want to keep it gluten free)
2 tsp garlic granules/2 mashed cloves
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

How to:

1) Chop up tofu into small cubes and place into a bowl

2) Add the rest of the ingredients and make sure all the tofu is coated

3) Place in oven for around half an hour

That is literally it.

They’re crispy enough to eat instead of potato crisps. High protein, low fat, low sugar, amazing. I literally eat these as a snack. You can add them to salads, stirfrys, fajitas, whatever.

I’ll be experimenting with a tomato marinade.

Watch this space.

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Venting Vegan

I am the only vegan in my family. In fact, I’m the only one who doesn’t eat meat, let alone dairy etc.

I’m also a very understanding person. I would never, ever attempt to convert anybody to a vegan diet just because I think it’s the right thing to do.

In all honesty, I was already a vegetarian and I only decided to go vegan temporarily as a weight loss method. However, my body feels so physically good from it that I decided to keep it up full-time.

Food is fuel for our body at the end of the day. If the food I’m eating makes my body feel good, I won’t eat something that will make me feel awful just because it tastes good; it’s counter-productive.

Saying that, I decided to go vegetarian in 2007 after I’d seen a documentary on battery farming. It horrified me and I cried for days. I took one look at my cat; he was my baby and I loved him more than anything and I thought “I would never eat Danny! He’s a cat!” and then it hit me.

Why wouldn’t I eat a cat? I ate chickens, I ate pigs, I ate cows. They’re all animals, so it shouldn’t matter.

But the point is, I wouldn’t eat my cat because I loved him. I wouldn’t eat any random cat because I associated all cats with being like my Danny. If I loved Danny, why didn’t I love all animals?

Just because Danny was my cat, that didn’t make him better than any other animal.

So I decided that if I wasn’t prepared to eat my cat, I shouldn’t be allowed to eat any other animal.

I’ll say again, I’d never try to convert anybody to becoming a vegan. Everybody has a choice; I made mine, so everybody else is entitled to make theirs as well.

I don’t accuse people of being “murderers” because they eat meat, because I think that’s unfair.

However, although I don’t think it’s my place to say anything, I do have a problem with this:

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I know the argument is “Well people keep dogs as pets so of course they’ll be upset blah blah blah!” but I don’t see that as an excuse.

Of course, I can’t tell if any of these people are vegetarian/vegan!

I had a talk with my own mother recently who refused to eat a rabbit that my father had cooked on her request because it looked “too much like a cat”.

It genuinely upsets me that people will get their pitchforks out when a cat or a dog has been kicked about, but don’t take a second thought for what they’re eating because “it doesn’t matter, they’re only farm animals”.

The way I see it is, you should either be prepared to eat all animals or no animals.

Fair enough if you love steak! But who are you to decide what’s okay to love and okay to eat? The “food chain” argument is redundant too.

Well done for overpowering an animal just because you’re strong enough.

If Lions suddenly learned how to use guns and tanks and command an army to wipe us all out just because they could, we wouldn’t be very happy about it.

I’m really, seriously not trying to convert anybody, but please do think about what I’ve said. If you would absolutely break down after I’d told you I’d just served you dog pie, why is it okay for me to give you a chicken pie? We share this planet and everything deserves to be loved equally.

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How the Academy Awards Work

Every year I stay up late for two huge US events and watch them live from the UK.

1) The Superbowl

2) The Oscars

I have a thing for American Football. I just love it. I even got really good at EA Games’ Madden 14 because I just couldn’t get my head around Fifa. EA Games will probably sue me for mentioning their name without permission, adding on smaller, expansion payments until they think they’ve wrung my wallet toally dry. The expansion sueing will be pointless, unimaginative, irrelevant to what originally happened, except for one which was to make up for a total ass-fuckery of an ending to the original plot (I’m looking at you, Mass Effect 3).

Moving on.

I’ve stayed up to watch the Academy Awards for the last 5-6 years, and in this time, I’ve spotted a pattern.

Before we go any further; don’t be an ass. This is not meant to cause offense.

There is always a front runner that nobody shuts up about, and usually, nobody watches it either. This film almost always features either;

– A lead cast of Black people in a questionable environment i.e slave trade, the ghetto etc.

– Soldiers. American soldiers.

I like to call these the “Political films”. They are the films that either make white people feel guilty about oppressing an entire race of people, or they make white people feel guilty about scrapping over oil in foreign countries. The political films always win Best Picture, but the cast rarely win Best Actor/Actress in a Leading Role. They will usually, however, win best Supporting Actress.

The Best Supporting Actor will go to Christoph Waltz if he has collaborated with Quentin Tarrantino that year. If he hasn’t, it will go to the actor you least expect it to. They’re normally the underdog who hasn’t done anything in a while.

Best Adapted Screenplay will either go to the political film if it falls into that category. If it doesn’t, it goes to the only one you’ve heard of.

Likewise, if the political films falls into Best Original Screenplay, it will win. If it doesn’t, it too will go to the only one you’ve heard of.

Nobody cares about Best Foreign Language film, mainly because we’re too ignorant to put up with subtitles.

In previous years, this award goes to that film that the assistant in Blockbuster told you to watch because “it’s awesome”. You will have been reccommended this film because the assistant thinks you’re an uneducated idiot and enjoys how pissed off you’ll be when you get home and realise that you have to watch it with subtitles, but you paid £3.50 for it so you’ll put it on in the background while you play Angry Birds on your iPad.

I used to work for Blockbuster. This is what we really did.

Best Original Song goes to whatever reached number one in the charts. You liked that song and you probably bought it off iTunes.

Best Film Editing is a wishy washy award, and one of the few I think is genuinely careful considered by the Academy. It changes every year.

Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Editing go to the most explosive and flashy film of the Summer. This film is the one the boys have been waiting for. There are usually robots/vehicles/dragons in this film.

Best Costume Design goes to the weird woman who has gone stir crazy while making dresses for Keira Knightley in a period drama that nobody gave a shit about. Downton Abbey is probably mentioned in the speech.

Best Actress is normally for the film that everybody heard of but only a few watched. It’s normally about a woman who has a crisis, goes a bit crazy, does some life-affirming stuff and gets a boyfriend at the end. It either features a controversial plot or iconic scenery from an exotic country.

Best Actor is always a controversial film. The actor normally locks themselves away for six months to really get into character. You probabaly didn’t see this movie. The winner will almost always be white, too.

The biggest hit of the year, and everybody’s favourite, never wins the important awards. They aren’t generally considered “intellectual” enough for the Academy, even though it’s the one that made everyone the most money…

I’ve probably jinxed this now. But seriously, give this a read before you watch the ceremony/the news the day after.

I’m almost always right.

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Chinese Tofu

Do you like tofu?

No! Of course you don’t! It’s disgusting!

Which is exactly what I thought until the lovely lady from Dragonfly tofu set me straight.

Tofu is soggy, bland, plasticky in flavour and rubbery in texture.

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you will no doubt have attempted to show off to your friends and show them all the cool food we eat and dispell the theory that we graze in fields with our best friends, the farm animals.

The chances are that you will never have mentioned tofu, let alone ever cooked it for anyone you wanted to prove to that you aren’t a nut job tree hugger, because you know you’ll fail.

I am here to change all that (providing you like asian cuisine).

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I know it still looks pretty crap! I know! But it really is all in the taste and texture!

Please give it a go!

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Ingredients:

1 pack of Dragonfly original organic tofu (It has to be Dragonfly. Do not use any other brand because they suck and don’t absorb the flavours as well)
3 cloves of garlic
1tbsp Five Spice
4-5 tbsp soy sauce (Tamari if you want to keep it gluten free)
1 1/2 tbsp agave nectar
Tupperware or equivalent fridge proof tub with lid (Or a large sandwich bag…)

1) In a food processor, mince the garlic cloves into a gloopy paste. (I have the Hinari equivalent of the Magic Bullet/Nutribullet. £30 on Amazon, I insist that you invest in one!)

2) Put the garlic paste, soy sauce/tamari, five spice and agave nectar into the tupperware tub and mix together to form into a paste. If it’s too thick, add more soy sauce/tamari.

3) Cut the tofu block into tiny squares; the smaller the better. They will take on more flavour and cook a lot easier. With them being smaller, they will firm up much better and won’t have the infamous mushy texture we all associate with tofu.

4) Put the tofu into the tupperware and stir it around, coating every single piece. If you’ve gone with the sandwich bag approach, put on a loud rock band track and shake away.

5) Refrigerate for at least 24 hours to let the marinade soak in. Add it to a stir fry with some veg, wholewheat noodles and hoisin sauce.

Eat. Hail me as your new messiah.

3

Vegan Marrow and Couscous

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I’m going to begin by asking anybody to come up with a name for this dish, because I am lost.

However, it is incredibly delicious and the bland name shouldn’t deter you from eating this.

Ingredients:

1 marrow
Half a cup of dried couscous
3 cloves of garlic
Basil
Cayenne pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Tomato puree
Sundried tomatoes
Black and/or green olive tapenade
2 tbsps cashew nuts

So bloody easy;

1) Cut your marrow in half lengthways directly down the centre and scoop out entrails.

2) In a small dish, combine 3 finely chopped cloves of garlic, a small handful of basil and cayenne pepper with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Make sure your ingredients are small enough to form a thick, dryish paste.

3) Absolutely drench the marrow halves in the paste.

4) Wrap them up in tin foil like a parcel and bake for 45 mins on a standard heat (gas mark 5-6).

5) When you take them out of the oven, they should be really tender and juicy. If they’re still a bit too solid (almost like a raw or part-boiled potato texture), put them back in the oven and keep them in until they’re nice and soft. When they are nice and soft, take them out of the tin foil and get rid of the leftover marrow juice. Scatter 1 tbsp of cashew nuts in each marrow half and put back in the oven until the cashews are a very light golden brown.

6) Cook your couscous according to the instructions. Finely chop the sundried tomatoes and add them in along with the tomato puree and olive tapenade. Add some garlic granules for extra flavour! If you are seriously lazy (and there is no shame in that), you can buy sundried tomato packet couscous which cooks in about 2 minutes and tastes just as good.

Go to town on this dish with a large salad scattered with queen and kalamata olives!

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The Best Vegan Lasagne

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Look at it. It looks delicious. That’s because it tastes delicious too. And it’s super easy to make.

If you’re used to making your own lasagnes, this one is no different. If you’ve no idea how to make a lasagne or just find convenience in ready made ones, I urge you to give this a go!

I’ve made this for my meat eating family (truth be told, everyone was tired and asked me to cook. While I have no problem cooking meat for them, that night, I wanted a lasagne and I told them that was what I was cooking; take it or leave it).

They actually loved it.

My Mum is trying to cut down on fat so she was up for giving it a go. My Dad lived on-and-off in China for a good five years so he’s eaten snake, cat, dog, testicles from an unknown animal, you name it (he did admit that had he known what he was eating, he would have probably had a salad instead), so as you can imagine, he’ll eat pretty much anything. My poor steak loving boyfriend will eat anything I give him as he says it’s all tasty and definitely feels a benefit eating vegan food, so he was more than happy to give it a go.

This makes a small lasagne which we cut into quarters and had with a massive salad. Double up on ingredients if you want a bigger one.

Ingredients:

1 packet of Granose soya mince (leave this out if you don’t like meat substitutes and just add extra veg. It gives great texture and flavour)
1tbsp olive oil
2-3 cups of chopped mushrooms
1 bag of spinach
1 large red onion (White onions work fine too!)
1 yellow pepper
1 red pepper
1 lazy ass tin of ratatouille
1 tin chopped tomatoes
However much garlic you like (We’re garlic monsters in this house so we use about 5-6 cloves!)
Big handful of fresh basil
1 1/2 tsp sugar or a tbsp of agave nectar
1 pack of lasagne sheets (Sainsburys are totally vegan)

“Cheese” Sauce:

I’m no good with measurements so use your best judgement

About 250ml water
Some plain flour…
Parmesan style soya cheese (I like this one because the flavour is so damn strong that you don’t need to use a lot)
Mixture of mozarella and parmesan style “cheese” to top

The path to deliciousness:

1) Big pan. Start to heat up the olive oil. Crush the garlic (never chop!), dice the onion and peppers and shred half of the basil and sauteé in the oil on a low heat. Add a pinch of salt. This stops the onions from burning and helps them sweat.

2) When your onions and peppers are soft, add the mushrooms and spinach. If you find the mushrooms are too dry, add a tiny bit of boiling water to help cook them instead of extra oil.

3) Add the tin of ratatouille and chopped tomatoes and let them heat up and simmer.

4) Completely ignore the instructions on the granose mince and add it straight into the sauce. Stir in the sugar/agave nectar and remaining basil.

5) Keep this on a low heat while you make the “cheese” sauce.

6) Heat up the water in a pan and sieve a tbsp at a time of flour in. It usually takes about 1 1/2 to 2 to make a thick sauce.

7) Add a bunch of “cheese” and stir it in. If your sauce is too thick, add tiny bits of water to thin it out. If it’s too runny, add more flour and cheese in small quantities.

8) Basic lasagne preparation; layer of bolognese, layer of pasta; copy + paste.

9) When you’ve used up all the tomato sauce, add a final layer of pasta and cover with the “cheese” sauce and “cheese”.

10) Bake it on a standard heat in the over for about 45mins to an hour to give everything chance to cook through and the veg to soften.

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This will serve two hungry people or four who want heaps of salad with it.

I swear it is delicious and worth the effort.

Let me know how you got on!