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Vegan-ish cooking

This fortnight I have been cooking dinners from Jackie Norman and Gareth Scurr’s Easy and Delicious Vegan Recipes for Busy People, although I have been un-veganfying the recipes with cheese and yoghurt and real milk.

OK, I’ve just been cooking vegetarian meals. But I like the terms unveganfying vegan meals or veganish cooking.

I like vegetarian food. I like the lower impact on the environment. If you want to do something for the environment, and you eat meat, cut out a red meat dinner each week. You’ll lower your carbon emissions by quite a bit.

I also like that I am not inflicting suffering on animals.

But the main reason I like vegetarian foods is: I like the flavour. But not vegan. Nothing beats milk and cheese and yoghurt.

I often go for the vegetarian options at lunches. People often comment, “I didn’t know you are vegetarian!” I’m not. Just prefer it.

I do like some meat. Roast lamb. Yum. An occasional piece of salty ham. Prawns. Mmmm. Roast pork. Occasionally. Not a fan of most pieces of chicken. While I often eat butter chicken, I normally only eat the sauce with a piece of naan, leaving the pieces of chicken for Mr S. I do like the skin off a roast chook. Not so much the meat.

Some of my meat-free choices might make little sense. I hate meat on my pizzas. Except for a few prawns. Spag Bol with meat is horrific. Makes me gag. But I can eat savoury mince. I hate tofu. It also makes me gag. Blurgh.

I’ve been following Jackie and Gareth on FB for a while – they sold up and have been living a minimalist life in a van driving around NZ. When they released a vegan cookbook, I thought it might not be released in Australia. Luckily it has been and my library had a copy.

First dish I made was their Ye Olde Family Chilli. Very similar to my own brew but they add tinned lentils and cocoa powder. Once cooked up, it really looked like meat. Not that I needed it to look like meat, but if sons come it might be good to fool them. I jazzed up our bowls, or loaded them up, with corn kernels, yoghurt, grated cheese, sweet chilli sauce and corn chips. My cheese and yoghurt additions are the non-vegan additions.

This was a winner!

Second dish was lasagne. Similar to my recipe, more so because I won’t use non-milk options to make white sauce and have to use real cheese.

I adapted their Man Flu Minestrone. What made it the BEST EVER minestrone was my addition of a piece of Parmesan. A rind with a bit of cheese still in it. OMG. Devine.

Also adapted their cauliflower curry. I tossed in some Nigella seeds and cardamom pods. Went down a treat. This was vegan. I was going to add yoghurt but it was off.

As well as being yummy, cutting the meat makes for cheaper meals. Which is lucky because I spent a bit on chocolate for Easter. 🐣

Cauliflower, potato, pea and red lentil curry

Cooked this tonight. Found the recipe I used before but as usual, I made the recipe my own.

God it was a good brew.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Bunch of coriander
  • Curry. I used two or three teaspoons of Keans curry powder, a generous sprinkling of ground coriander, and even more garum masala
  • 1 cup and bit of dried red lentils
  • 4 cups of vegetable stock. I use Campbell's real stock
  • Whole cauliflower, cut up into florets
  • 3 or 4 small potatoes, peeled and chopped into quarters
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Big squirt of tomato paste, about 2 or 3 tablespoons
  • Several handfuls of frozen peas
  • I also used left over and wilting celery, finely chopped so it would disappear because Mr S doesn't like it. But he picked it straight away. OK, I didn't chop very finely.
  • Natural yoghurt, to serve

Method

  1. Heat oil in large pan. Add onion, garlic, and celery. (The latter is optional.) Fry for a bit until onions soften. About 5 minutes.
  2. Add curry powder. Fry up a bit.
  3. Add lentils and stir so lentils are coated in all the curry goodness.
  4. Add stock, cauliflower, potatoes, tomato paste, tin tomatoes l.
  5. Simmer for about 25 minutes with lid on.
  6. Add peas and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  7. I turned off the heat and took off lid so it would thicken.

It has to be served sprinkled with chopped coriander leaves and thick Greek yoghurt.

I wish we had some Naan bread. That would have improved on perfection.

Just what mother/the doctor ordered

I’ve been feeling poorly. 

Coughing, spluttering, chills, hot spells, headaches, muscle aches, sinus pain, burning throat. Think that’s about it. 
Started with lethargy and headache and sore throat. Had a day off last week and thought I was fine. Actually felt a bit of a fraud. So went to work the next day. 

Then came the coughing. And lost voice.  I had a play on Saturday and didn’t want to be kicked out or ruin the experience. Not that the voice was necessary for the day. I bought some cough mixture and cough lozenges. I got through the play but then things went downhill. Coughing fits. Deep hacking coughing. On the crowded train home. The Japanese lady next to me was visibly distressed and turned away. I can imagine what everyone on the carriage was thinking: get that disease-ridden woman off the train. 

Bedridden on Sunday. No way I could go to work on Monday. Mr S doesn’t believe in days off. When I said, on the Sunday night, I thought I couldn’t go into work tomorrow, he said I should wait until the morning, I was might be better. 

That night I slept through our fire alarm that went off with no apparent reason. I had had a few deep coughing fits and my body was exhausted. 

So what to do?

Western medicine. Chinese medicine. Mother’s medicine. Medicine for the soul.

My mother said to stay at home and rest. She rang on my home phone Monday morning to check I hadn’t gone to work.   

I really craved chicken soup.  I needed its healing properties. Jewish penicillin. But like my grandmother used to make. Warm and soothing on the throat.

Doctor said I needed some antibiotics to kill the infection and some cortisone to strengthen the lungs and stop them being so reactive. And to use the ventolin puffer. And that I should have got a flu shot. And don’t waste my money on cough syrup – no better than a placebo. 

Friends variously recommended rest with video catch up and time to read. I borrowed a very easy read. But I have no inclination to read. That’s how sick I am. 

One friend suggested something new: astragalus root infusion. Chinese herbal medicine. Apparently boostes immune system. Move over Echinacea. Interesting reading if you google it. 

What have I got to lose? I’m using everything. 

What do you do to fight a cold or upper respiratory infection that won’t go?

Summer is …

Mangoes

Trays of mangoes in the fruit shop tell me it is summer. 

Who can resist a tray of mangoes? $25 for 17. 

As it says on the side of the tray: taste the tropics. But even better, the smell is divine. Creamy, sweet, mangoe-y. There’s nothing quite like it. Shame there is no scratch and sniff Internet. Who needs scented candles?

 

A tray of mangoes when a couple of mangoes is never enough. 

Mimi’s refried beans

Mimi is a cook on a forum I belong to. She comes up with wonderful and often cheap recipes.

This was wonderful, quick, yummy, cheap and healthy. Mimi put smoky paprika but I prefer sweet.

Ingredients

2 cups dried red kidney beans
1 cup red lentils
3/4 cup olive oil
6 cups water
1 onion diced
6 cloves of garlic, sprinkled with a touch of oil and roasted for 15 minutes in a moderate oven (more or less according to your love of garlic! I make extra to use in other dishes, eg salsa.)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 Bay Leaf

Method

1. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of it’s papery shell.

2. Combine everything in the crock pot, and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. You can also simmer this on the stove top for 2-3 hours.

3. Remove the Bay Leaf.

4. Empty into a food processor and blend until smooth.

How to serve?

1. Soft tacos
I made guacamole – mashed an avocado with a fork, squeeze of lemon, spoonful of Greek yoghurt (I make my own yoghurt with Easiyo).

And I made salsa – chopped cherry tomatoes, chopped coriander, couple of roasted garlic, half a cooked onion.

Warm tortillas, put small spread of refried beans, some lettuce, salsa, guacamole, sweet chilli sauce. Wrap and eat!

2. Dip
Serve as a dip layered with salsa and guacamole with corn chips.

3. Wraps
Heat a heaped tablespoon of refried beans and a stalk of broccolini in microwave for a minute. Place two pieces of Mountain Bread on board. Spread beans thinly down middle of slice, put on broccolini and grated cheese. Roll bread and put in sandwich press until cheese slightly melts.

Of course you could use it for nachos, hard tacos etc but these were the three ways I served it. Yum!

It’s Droptober again.

The never-ending challenge to be more healthy in a world awash with excess, with junk, with tempting morsels!

I like a challenge that is specific and time-limited. I don’t seem to do so well on the “just eat healthily and do exercise for the rest of your life” mode of being.

Although my Fit it is keeping me motivated, new month, time for a new challenge. OK, the month is just over half way through, but trust me, I’ve been doing this since October 1. (What is it about linking challenges to the calendar? Do you like starting them on a Monday or the first of the month too?)

Anyway last year I made up Droptober: dropping something unhealthy from the diet for a month. I broke the nexus between a cup of tea and having to have several bikkies. And I lost a couple of kilos. And I haven’t felt the need to eat a lot of bikkies since. I used to buy packets and packets every grocery shop. Now I might pop in one or two, but usually walk straight on past the biscuit shelves.

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Droptober time again! I just read through my entries from last year. God, I impressed myself! I was not only more prolific, but I wrote some good shit.(Click on Droptober to the left and have a look, if you like.)

Opps, focus! What am I dropping this time?

1. Limit white bread. Swap toast for porridge Monday to Friday.
2. No biscuits. (OK this one won’t be too hard.)
3. No cakes or similar except for special occasions, such as birthday or dinner out. (This is hard as there’s always a morning tea for something or somebody!)
4. No sausage rolls. (We seem to have these too often for morning teas.)
5. No lollies or chocolates or sweets – except one small treat a day. (Mmmm, we always have chocolate and lollies in the house. A house of lolly and chocolate lovers. They fall out of all manner of hiding holes.)
6. No chips or Twisties or the like (except plain chips when on road trips as they stop me getting car sick.)

So, basically I am dropping the things with bad, processed fats and white flour and the things high in sugar – and in some cases, both!

How would you go on this challenge? Would it make much difference to your eating patterns.

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Half-made May

Half way through the month and half made over?

All I can say is, No!

I stood on the scales, well, just because. But I knew it wouldn’t be pretty.

Yes, I’ve been having a healthy breakfast (porridge) and going for walks.

But the eating front. Well, look at some of yesterday’s consumption.

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Not this many. Four of them, I think. Mindful eating, not.

And these:

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Homemade meringues. So soft and crunchy. Dissolve in your mouth. How many? Lost count.

And two of these:

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The day before I ate half a sausage roll and a small piece of chocolate cake.

Oh, and everyday I’ve eaten too much chocolate. Much too much.

So any guesses which way the scales went?

Isn’t this cheering?

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The colour!

The plumpness!

The evident juiciness!

The sweetness!

Nothing like a burst of mandarin in winter.

I luff, luff, luff mandarins when the season starts. And have had enough when the season ends.

What fruit do you enjoy as a seasonal fruit and never buy as imported from another hemisphere? And what fruit do you find cheering, especially in the colds of winter?

Made-over May

A week into Makeover May! And am I made over?

Well (and don’t you just know that when someone starts with “well”, you may as well just skip to the rationalisations), sort of.

I have resumed porridge for weekday mornings. So tick on that front.

I haven’t eaten biscuits. Goody, another tick.

No alcohol on Thursday 1st and Tuesday 6th. Look at all those tricks lining up!

Done quite a bit of walking. Can you believe how virtuous I am?

And I have remembered to eat nuts and fruit everyday. Are you getting bored already?

Well, stop asking, “But what about the chocolate?” We don’t talk about that in our family.

OK, I’ve eaten chocolate. Not the big bunny. But a middle-sized egg and a very small-sized egg or two.

And one evening, when enjoying too many glasses of red, I opened some strange snacky things that Mr Sans bought. Not actually nice, but goodly crunchy in a very crunchy-that-goes-with-alcohol manner.

And, hanging my head in shame, I haven’t resumed my oh so boring strengthening exercises. I know they are better for me than just walking, but I enjoy going for my walk. It is never boring – time to relax and think. But I don’t have time to do both.

So there you have it. Not quite made over yet.

Oh, and my weight? The same. But I don’t feel so bloated.