Vegan

Day 27: Hot stuff

Well here we are in our final weekend of veganing! We wanted to make the most of it with lots of creative Good Life-ing, and so we set out to make some beautiful piccalilli to see us through the autumn and winter months. I love piccalilli so much – I would eat it with anything. Tangy and sharp and sweet with crunchy bits of vegetable – it’s the best!

wp-1538211720255.jpgBefore we began, though, we set ourselves up with breakfast – thankfully we had had the presence of mind to put the bread maker on before bed, so awaiting us was a lovely warm loaf with mixed white and wholemeal and rye flour and the whole flat smelled amazing! True, the loaf hadn’t risen quite right and was a bit wonky on one side, but it tasted great.  We teamed it with a bit of marmalade that Si had made ages ago and squirrelled away… it had rum in it and smelled like Christmas cake. Tasted like it too, it was awesome.

wp-1538228353851.jpgSuitably fortified, we cracked on with the piccalilli. This involved dicing carrot, cauliflower, garlic, swede, broccoli, radishes, onion, and green beans really small and mixing them with salt – we have left them in a covered bowl for 24 hours to draw out all the moisture.

wp-1538228712820.jpgThat done, it was time for the hot sauce! Si is clearly determined to Carly-proof all future meals… he likes things much spicier than me, and while our jalapeño jelly is a thing of beauty, I was a bit intimidated by the carrier bag of scotch bonnets that Si dumped into the sink for me to wash!

Into the blender they went – and how I laughed when Simon bent over the opening for a sniff – he recoiled spitting and spluttering as if he had been sprayed with mace! But when we added tomatoes and peaches and honey [it is for post-September consumption only!] and vinegar and sugar and salt it mellowed a bit…and more so when we put it on the hob… only a bit though!

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Si gave me a tiny taste on the end of a spoon handle and while it had a beautiful fruity flavour, after a moment the heat hits you WHAM! Sudden fiery warmth which is OK if a bit hot – but then it slices all acrid into the back of your throat and that’s not so nice – you feel like you’re breathing fire and it’s a bit of a shrill flavour if that makes any sense. But Si loves it, and I’m hoping it will mellow a bit further if we leave some of the 9 (!) bottles in the cupboard for a few weeks.

Our work done, it was time for lunch, and Si used up the last of the pastry from last week’s pie to make us each a beautiful Mushroom and tarragon tart with a lattice top. Tarragon is something I have only come to since we started veganing – it has encouraged us to try all kinds of different herbs – and it’s fast becoming a favourite. It has a slight aniseed flavour but much subtler than fennel – never go full liquorice! – and more savoury too. Very very tasty indeed, with a nice creamy filling made from gram flour and water. Nom!

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You can tell we have been doing this for a month now, in that we’re having to work quite hard to come up with new ideas that we haven’t tried already or in Veganuary. I know vegans don’t have to be super creative every day – and we have had burgers and so on ourselves – but we do want to push ourselves a bit. In some ways I am looking forward to things being a bit easier next month, but it has definitely been good for us that we can’t just fall back on safe familiar options like a quick omelette or a takeaway (without thinking about it or really studying the menu).

After a lot of brain-wracking, though, I came up with a version of one of my favourite M&S lunches that we could make a bit more substantial – the super salad with quinoa and roasted broccoli and spinach hummus. I call it: ‘Grains n’ Greens with Fake Chicken’.

I admit, I cheated a bit and used a packet of Uncle Ben’s wild rice and quinoa as dried quinoa would have taken an age to cook and we were hungry! I also bought another one of Iceland’s new vegan range: a packet of ‘no chick’ strips. The latter went into the oven along with the broccoli left over from piccalilli making, cut up into tiny florets and scattered with salt and pepper.

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On the hob I steamed some green beans and spinach and in the meantime set a bowl of peas defrosting in boiling water. When the spinach was soft I squeezed all the water out of it and popped it into Si’s mini food processor along with three generous spoonfuls of hummus and a handful of peas. Given that hummus is such a vegan staple I am surprised we haven’t eaten more of it this month! This was all zhoozhed until smooth and then set aside.

When the ‘chicken’ was done and the broccoli nice and crisp and darkened, it was assembly time! I microwaved the quinoa and rice and then spread it onto a plate, creating a well in the middle. Onto the grains I scattered peas, green beans (cut into small pieces) and roasted broccoli, and into the centre went a nice dollop of hummus (by now a beautiful green colour!). The ‘chicken was scattered round the outside of that.

It was pretty tasty! I will definitely be doing the hummus again, and there was a great mix of textures.  The ‘chicken’ was really interesting  – it definitely felt meaty, but like chicken that has been slightly overcooked, like you would find in a stir fry or chicken fried rice. Really good though!

Having eaten the lot, we’re now sitting and reflecting on our Septofu exploits as the month draws towards an end. It has been fun – though as I said, I’m looking forward to having a wider range of things to cook with again. And, truth be told, being vegan is quite expensive unless you’re willing to stick to fresh vegetables and pulses… £2 would buy you a decent number of beef burgers, but it only stretches to two No Bull patties, for example. And I can get 350g cheese for about £1.80 in Lidl, but a very small block of vegan equivalent costs £3.50 or more.

Maybe with veganism becoming more mainstream though the prices will come down? This month has definitely been good for us, though  – as in January, I do feel like my culinary horizons have definitely been expanded.

On to tomorrow!

Today I ate/drank:

  • Tea with almond milk
  • Toast with rum marmelade
  • Mushroom and tarragon tart
  • Fizzy squash
  • Greens n grains with fake chicken
  • Moretti
  • Cider

3 thoughts on “Day 27: Hot stuff”

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