Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Vegetarian Drugs

I’m going to have to stop reading health news items – they’re doing my blood pressure no good at all! Have a look at this. Shock, horror…some drugs are not vegetarian! Like we didn’t already know…

Frankly, I’m surprised at this comment from the Vegetarian Society – “Some vegetarians will be shocked to learn about the widespread use of animal ingredients in medicines” – they really ought to know better. Do they genuinely believe vegetarians, who think very carefully about everything they eat, are so stupid that they won't have thought about the implications of the ingredients in medication? Do they think we can't read or ask the Pharmacist for advice?

To be honest, I find the gelatine issue much less of a problem than the fact that pretty much every drug on the market has been tested on animals before it is let loose on humans, but I notice they don’t mention that.

Some veggies will choose not to take certain medication; some will take anything they need to for the sake of their health. There is no right or wrong answer here; all any of us can do is follow our own conscience and do whatever seems right for us.

Mind you, ridiculous headlines which just give others a chance to have a dig at veggies don’t help much. Grrrr!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Scotch Pancakes

It’s Pancake Day today and these little Scotch Pancakes are my contribution to the proceedings. I remember making these years ago when I was still at school, although we called them Drop Scones. I must confess, the ones I made at the age of thirteen resembled rather rubbery drinks mats and, as I recall, they tasted like drinks mats too! Thankfully, I've improved a lot since those days.

I know these don’t look like the usual sort of pancakes but I’m not too keen on the ‘lemon and sugar’ type so we had these as a substitute. They were very nice as a little mid-afternoon filler and they were so quick to make you can almost do them while the kettle boils. I used a heavy frying pan to cook them but if you have a flat griddle it will be even quicker because you’ll be able to cook more at a time.

120g self-raising flour
pinch of baking powder
30g golden caster sugar
1 large egg
100ml milk

small amount of butter for greasing
butter and jam to serve

Put all the dry ingredients into a large jug; add the egg and milk and mix to a smooth thick batter.

Heat a flat griddle or frying pan over a medium heat and grease the pan with a little butter, wipe the excess from the pan with kitchen paper so that just a thin film remains.

Pour one-two tablespoons of batter per pancake in the pan and cook until small bubbles form and start to pop. Turn them over and cook for another minute or two on the other side.

Grease the pan again and cook more pancakes until all the batter is used up. I made ten of these little beauties. Serve whilst just warm with plenty of butter and jam (and a mug of tea!)

Best eaten the same day they’re made.

Monday, 20 February 2012


I’m sorry about this post, but it’s not the sort of thing I could just ignore. When I read it this morning, all I could think was “Why…for goodness sake, WHY...??”

You might want to eat your dinner before you have a look at this link. It really shouldn't be read on an empty stomach!

The gist of it is that some idiot scientist has managed to produce ‘synthetic meat’ in a lab. He seems to think that this is a more sustainable way of producing meat and may eventually help solve the problem of providing enough food for a rising world population.

Obviously, we all know that meat production is a very inefficient way of producing food, so why didn’t he just suggest that people stop eating meat and change to a more grain and vegetable based diet? Too difficult for him, huh?

“Professor Post's group at Maastricht University in the Netherlands has grown small pieces of muscle about 2cm long, 1cm wide and about a mm thick.
They are off-white and resemble strips of calamari in appearance. These strips will be mixed with blood and artificially grown fat to produce a hamburger by the autumn.”

Hell’s Bells! Now doesn’t that sound delicious...?!

I’ll tell you what, Professor Post; you eat your lab-grown, synthetic meat hamburger and I’ll just have a tofu, cashew nut and vegetable stir-fry, if it's all the same to you, thanks.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Coconut Noodles with Vegetables

I cooked this for dinner one night last week; in all honesty I probably wouldn’t have chosen this particular recipe myself, but it wasn’t my choice. I’ll explain.

On one of the food boards where I post a member came up with such a good idea that I'm surprised nobody has thought of it before...Cook and Tell. A bit like Show and Tell for schoolchildren, but in this instance we all cook a dish then say what we did or didn’t like about it or what we might tweak if we cooked it again. This recipe was one of the two chosen dishes for February; it's by Anjum Anand on the BBC Food site. She calls it Vegetables and Rice Noodles in a Coconut Broth, but I think that's a bit too long-winded!

I suppose the best thing I can say about the dish is…it was OK. In appearance it was lovely; really light, fresh and green. However, its looks were let down by its flavour; I actually thought it was quite bland and featureless. It needed an extra something, I’m not quite sure what, to give it a bit more zing – it seemed to be missing a focal point if you know what I mean.

Another point I think I should also make is the low protein element of the finished dish. I’m not one of those veggies who religiously monitors their protein intake, in fact I rarely think about it, but I generally expect a main meal to supply a reasonable amount.

In summary: I’ll definitely cook it again, but I’ll probably add in some paneer or maybe some marinated tofu and I'll turn up the volume on the ginger and chilli a bit. I’ll most likely serve it with rice instead of rice noodles, too; I love rice whereas I can take or leave noodles.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Carrot and Sesame Burgers

The weather here is still perishing cold; snow, frost and ice are becoming a pain in the neck and I am sooo fed up with it!

We seem to have been living on cold weather food recently (soup, chilli sans carne, curry, etc.) but I fancied a little something for a change, so when I saw this GoodFood recipe it perked me up no end and sent me scurrying off to the kitchen to give it a go.

It’s a really easy recipe and very tasty. I used ciabatta rolls for serving, I don’t like commercially made burger buns and I couldn’t be bothered to make my own, they worked surprisingly well. If you want something to serve with your burgers I'd suggest some spicy potato wedges and mayonnaise, which is what Mr Simply Veg had with his. If we ever get a summer I think this mix could be used rather like falafel; rolled into little balls and baked instead of fried, served in soft flour tortillas with salad. It has to be worth a try.

I’ll just mention a couple of points…

The recipe says ‘serves 6’…well, I made eight enormous burgers with this and if I’d made them a more normal size I could probably have made ten! I packed the others up and put them in the freezer.

I added a couple of tablespoons of chopped coriander just because I happened to have some.

Next time I'd up the quantity of cumin in the recipe; it got a bit lost in the mix.

Take care when you're cooking the burgers; they have to be really well chilled and even then it’s a bit of a struggle to keep them together! If I was making them in the summer I wouldn’t attempt to cook them on a barbecue unless I used a griddle, but you may be braver than me.   

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Spicy Red Lentil & Coconut Soup

I’m sorry if the blog looks a bit soupy these days, it’s just that it’s been so cold recently that I don’t seem to want to eat much else. If I knew who to complain to about this perishing weather I’d be firing off an email and giving them a piece of my mind!

I’ll be so glad when the first new leaves of Spring start showing, I’ve had enough of winter now; I want longer days, I want warmth and I want to be outside planting vegetable seeds so that I can watch them grow. Oh, and I want to sit in the garden with bruschetta and olives for lunch.

But while I wait for all that….I’m eating soup.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
1 level tsp ground cumin
1 level tsp ground coriander
1 level tsp garam masala
2 bay leaves
good pinch of dried chilli flakes
1.5l vegetable stock
200g red lentils
200ml coconut milk
1 tbsp chopped coriander

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion and carrot over a medium heat for 5 minutes; add the garlic, spices and bay leaves and sauté for a minute or two until the spices become aromatic. Stir in the stock and add the red lentils. Bring to the boil, stir well, then turn the heat right down and simmer gently for 20 minutes with the lid on.

Take off the heat and add the coconut milk. Remove the bay leaves then put half the soup in another saucepan or a large bowl and blitz with a stick blender; add the blitzed soup to the chunky soup, reheat for a couple of minutes and stir in the chopped coriander.

Enjoy with plenty of fresh bread.

Serves 4-6