Monday, 24 August 2009

Long Overdue Update

I do love keeping my blog. It makes me very happy to sharing cooking with others, and to hopefully show people that sometimes being brave and trying new recipes really pays off. However, when I just banging out standard cook book fayre, or the same thing over again, I don't much feel like sharing. This is why I have an occasional tenancy for hiatus. When I'm stressed or down about something, its easy for me to slip back to the same meals I know I can safely do with little or no real effort.

I have had, however, a few nice meals of late, most enjoyable of which was a Mushroom Noodle dish, with a little toasted nori for good luck and iodine.

Mushroom Noodles - Serves Two

Neutral tasting oil for frying (Oil, Sunflower etc)
100g Mushrooms
2-3 Spring/Salad Onions
1 Clove of Garlic
1 Cup of Miso Soup (250ml)
1 Pack of 'Wok Ready' Noodles. Blue Dragon are suitable for vegans
1 Tbs of Soy Sauce
1 Tbs Gomashio
Sheet of toasted Nori
  1. Finely slice your mushrooms. Remove just the very roots of your spring onions off, and finely slice all the rest. This means the green bits too.
  2. Stir fry in a little oil for 2-3 mins
  3. Add the garlic, cook for a few moments, then add the miso soup and bring to a simmer
  4. Add the noodles and stir until mixed in, now add the soy sauce and 'plate up'
  5. Roll the nori into a tube and use scissors to slice ribbons of nori onto your bowls of noodle. Mix this in, then sprinkle with gomashio.
This is a very quick meal, and very filling.

I may well not post another recipe for a short time. One of my three cats, Pippin, will be going into the vets for an x-ray and biopsy on a small tumour on her chest tomorrow. Due to Pippin's age (16) and the location of the tumour, it is likely that it will have spread and we may not have her much longer.

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I love cats. I think because we all use the word 'love' too much, it's easy for that to be underestimated. Cats bring me a joy very little else does. They are so utterly honest in their affections. A cat won't sit with you unless it wants too, likewise, should a cat want to sit with you, it's going to be pretty insistent about it.

When myself and my Husband got married just under 10 years ago, we hadn't lived together first, and as such, we didn't have a honeymoon, instead deciding to spend the time off work setting up the new house. I had known from the start this would involve a cat living with us. We wanted to give a home to a rescue cat, and were introduced to Diva and Hobbit, who soon came to live with us. Diva and Hobbit had various health issues and a background which meant they needed to live indoors only, and we soon got used to the endless cycle of litter tray cleaning etc.

In late 2007 we noticed a lump on Hobbit's face. It turned out to be an inoperable tumour, and at Easter, we had to make the decision to take the pain away from her.

Diva pined for her sister, becoming anxious and unhappy whenever we left the house, and we decided that she needed another cat in the house to keep her happy.

We looked about, and in late May 2008, Maisie and Pippin came to live with us too. Maisie and Pippin were 15, and were life long housecats, so needed a new family that were happy to have older cats that would need to stay indoors. I fell in love with them instantly, and within a few weeks, they had integrated with Diva and they all became friends. Pippin's 'slightly enlarged thyroid' turned out to require daily drug therapy, which I suspect if why her former owners no longer wished to look after her.

Pippin often sits with me as I surf the net or blog, and amuses me by attempting to help herself to my drinks. She is a loving cat, who likes being held and purrs loundly at the slightest touch or glance. She has a special personality, and I love her very much. If it wasn't for my cats, I don't know that I would understand how wonderful animals are, and how much like us they are... and how very wrong it is for us to use them to fill our stomachs.

About two weeks ago I noted a small lump by one of her nipples, and arranged a vets visit. My vet echoed my concerns and performed a needle biopsy. The results came back how we feared, and so she's going in tomorrow.

I write this in part to find an outlet for sorrow, which copious tears doesn't seem to free, and in part because I want to ask that anyone reading this just mentally sends whatever positive thoughts they have to my baby when she is with the vet.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Plough(wo)man's Lunch

Any of my fellow Brits will be familiar with the concept of a Ploughman's Lunch. What they are less likely to be familiar with, is the concept that it might very well be a bit of a ploy from the 1960s by the Milk Marketing Board to get people eating more cheese. This is disputed, as you'll see from my Wikipedia link, but it's interesting none the less.

Before I became vegan, I was convince giving up cheese would be impossible. I have found that I don't really miss it that much. Now and then I have a nice meal which would traditionally be expected to have some cheese in it, and I don't really miss it. More for my Husband, I have Tofutii Cheese Slices on top of pizza, but that's about it.

At the moment, I'm trying to eat a few more nuts, but without just sat there eating a handful of nuts each day. Enter, cashew nut cheese. I'm not going to post a recipe, as there are many of these on the web and I just used a recipe from La Dolce Vegan. I will be making this again, as its very tasty, but I might mix it up a bit.

You can see here, my lunch on Saturday, using some of the Beetroot Bread from a few days ago, I was so pleased to have a mostly home made lunch. The alfala was home spouted, the lettuce home grown, the cashew nut cheese was home made. I can't claim to have grown the brazil nuts, but the beetroot in the bread was from my Dad's garden.

I followed this up with a nice, crisp apple. Now, feel free to tell me this doesn't look like a 'real ploughman's' but I liked it.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Beetroot Bread

I didn't make much of note today, other than some bread containing raw beetroot.

I made this mainly because I still have some of the beetroot my Dad gave me last time I went to visit, and partly because I've recently sown a few seeds myself, and I need something to do with them when I (hopefully) get a glut as a last crop of the year.

Also, it looked a very pretty pink hue in the photo in the recipe book... and is rather red in real life! The inside of the bread itself is nicely flecked with bits of beetroot, and is pinker then the baked crust of the bread.

I haven't included a picture of this cut bread, because the light had failed by the time I sliced it, and all the photos came out badly.

I followed a recipe almost identical to this one on with the difference that my recipe only call for one tsp of yeast, not the two shown here. My bread didn't rise as much as I like, so I would actually recommend the 2tsp instead. I think the beetroot weighs the dough down a little.

This recipe is taken from "Bread Machine" by Jennie Shapter. The nice thing about this book is that in most of the loaf recipes give you the option of small, medium or large. Small is always big enough for the pair of us.

I never bake bread in the bread machine itself though, using a Pyrex Bake a Round instead. This doesn't give a bread that's the right size for sandwiches, but which is just about perfect for a hunk of bread or a small bit of toast. I got mine from a charity shop, and am now searching endlessly for another one. I would get them off e-bay, but they seem to be a US only thing, and if you google it you'll see they are often used for non bread making reasons.

In gardening news, the courgettes are starting to come through now. Since we only have the one plant that's producing anything, I'm fairly pleased with getting one or two courgettes off it a week. The French peas now have rapidly growing pods on them, and the Raspberry the very start of some fruit. Considering this is my first year growing my own food, and I did start very late, I'm quite pleased.