Five Minute Slow Cooked Three Pulse Soup

I am feeling super sorry for myself, my wisdom teeth are hurting and I can’t bear the thought of eating solid food. My jaw is aching, ear is sore and I have a pressure headache 😦

I have even had to cancel my evening classes which I just can’t bear doing but needs must. 

Luckily though, dinner is sorted. With 5 minutes prep this afternoon I had a steaming bowl of protein packed pulses and veg. Thanks past Jo!!

When I posted a piccie of it on Facebook someone asked for the recipe so here it is.

Ingredients

100g red lentils

100g of chaana Dahl (if you don’t have this just double the lentils)

One tin of chickpeas

One onion

One stick of celery

One corgetti

One red pepper

Some cabbage 

Two carrots 

One clove garlic

One bay leaf

One 2 inch cube of ginger

One stock cube

Method

Thinly slice veg, for super speed just throw through the slicer in a food processor. Put in slow cooker, cover with boiling water, add lentils, chick peas, dahl, stock cube and bay leaf. Turn on low. Enjoy. 

There you have it! Perfect poorly soup 🙂 

Yo! Sushi Grainger Street Review 

Oh Yo! Sushi, how I love thee. I have spent many a lunch time happily alone, sitting perched at the belt watching the sushi spin past. I have visited over 5 branches of the restaurant and was so sad when I heard the one in Fenwick was closing (a short lived sadness I have to say, as the new Fenwick food hall is divine and a Yo! Sushi Grainger Street opened not too long after).

My job means that I work most evenings and some of the weekends, this means I have become a lady what lunches. Pretty much all of my disposable income goes on meeting friends for lunch, and when I’m not meeting friends I adore to dine alone. Yo! Sushi is a perfect dining alone venue.

What I loved about the Yo! Sushi in Fenwick is that it was a perfect mix of being left alone to relax, but you never felt bored watching the sushi sail past and pressing your little button for more green tea or a refill of miso. I enjoyed watching the shoppers bustle by with their bags and the chefs frying up some tepenyake behind the counter. 

If you’ve never been to Yo! Sushi I’ll explain the concept. There is a moving conveyor belt which the tables are arranged around, food is placed on the belt and you pick off what you fancy. You can also order food if you can’t see what you want on the belt. All the food is made in the centre of the room so you can see your food being made. It’s a gimmick that works and though it’s not the best or most authentic sushi in the world it’s fun and I ALWAYS end up eating more plates than I planned. 

So to my trip to the Grainger Street branch. The restaurant opened on the 12th May and I visited with two friends on the 13th. We entered the restaurant at 11.45am so just before the lunchtime rush. I was presented with a vegan menu straight away when I asked which was great.


There was a lot to choose from but I would have liked to have seen pictures in the menu showing the dishes like in the main menu, as if you had never been to Yo Sushi before you might find it difficult to match the dishes to the belt, also there was no prices on the menu either. 

The atmosphere in the restaurant was what I can only describe as ‘hyper’, every time someone came in all the staff and chefs would shout, which got very VERY noisy after a while. The music was so loud that me and my companions struggled to hear each other, which if anyone has ever met me or my companions in real life knows that that must be a mean feat as we are not quiet voiced people. The staff were obviously straight out of training which is fair enough as it had only been opened a day and no one expects a restaurant to be free of teething problems after one day. We had several mix ups with our orders (non of them vegan related), and one of the waiters was very young and a bit too keen, he stayed at the table asking us what our favourite dishes were for way too long while we were trying to eat and used the table we were eating at to lean on to put an order into his machine. These things are totally forgivable, like I say it’s a brand new restaurant and having been a young keen server myself I know it can be exciting to be working on a new job. I hope things settle down when it’s been open a bit longer, as I have no problem at all with a lively waiter or a bustling atmosphere but when it starts to encroach on the enjoyment of your food that’s when it becomes an issue. 

So to the food. There was a lot of choice for vegans, hoorah!

I had,

Aubergine Harusame


Yasai Yakisoba

Miso Soup

Cucumber Maki

Avocado Maki
The avocado maki wasn’t on the vegan menu but I asked for it to be made without mayo and they were very obliging (I actually ate three of these).

I was also excited to see that my favourite dish at Yo! Sushi, Miso Dumpling Ramen with Rice, is also vegan, but I was too full to have it this time.

I will definitely return to the Grainger Street branch of Yo! Sushi as the food is delicious and it’s such an easy way to eat vegan. I am sure that the excitement of opening will calm down and the staff teething issues will sort themselves out. I recommend you try it if you’ve never been.

Five Items That All Vegans Need In their Food Cupboard

When you first start looking into living a plant based lifestyle some of the ingredients can seem a bit daunting but you’ll soon see that the same things come up again and again. These are my top five things you need in your cupboard.

  1. Nutrional Yeast. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this stuff is amazing. Packed through of goodness it can add a cheesy hint to any meal and when a dish just feels like  ‘there’s something missing’ nine times out of ten, it’s this bad boy! I really don’t know why it’s not out there on everyone’s table, whether you’re vegan or not, right next to the salt and pepper!
  2. Liquid smoke. When I first heard of liquid smoke in a recipe I thought it must be some fancy pantsy ingredient. In reality it’s a liquid bbq sauce which can give your food a smoky, meaty taste. Great for marinades and chillis, or for making the amazing rice paper bacon. 
  3. Chick peas. Everyone knows how great chickpeas are in curries, soups, and blended as hummous, but did you know if you whisk the water from the can it can replace egg whites in cooking? Pretty neat! Called Aquafaba you can use it to make meringues, sauces and it’ll even give your chocolate mousse bubbles! 
  4. Black salt. This was a total revelation to me as I love a boiled egg. When I went vegan I was surprised that I wasn’t all that bothered about cheese or chocolate but I did get a craving for an egg. Black salt tastes exactly like boiled egg, I was stunned when I tasted it. I ate it with avocado, portebello mushroom and Violife creamy and it blew my mind. You can buy this from Indian Supermarkets and you can get it ground or whole, I bought ground for ease.
  5. Cashew nuts. Though all nuts will provide you with protein and can bulk up your power balls it’s the cashew nut which is going to make your cabanara sauces creamy and give you the right consistency in your cheese cake. So simple to use, just soak then blend, cashews are the base for many recipes for homemade cheese.

So there you have it, not a comprehensive list by any stretch of the imagination but a pretty good start! 

The Newcastle Vegan Festival

Isn’t it funny about vegan festivals, there isn’t one for ages and then three come along at once. Yesterday  (7th May 2016) was the first of three vegan festivals in the north east region this Summer and I was really excited to get along and see what the fuss was all about.

Newcastle Vegan Festival was held at the Assembly Rooms and was ran by Vegan Festival UK. It was a daytime festival and was open between 10.30am-4.30pm. I had classes in the morning so me and Andy headed down for about 2pm.

When we arrived I was surprised at how busy it was, everywhere seemed full of people browsing and sitting on the floor eating and chatting. A friend who I bumped into said that she’d been there all day and at one point it was completely heaving and the queues for the food had only just started to die down.

We dove straight in and started scanning the area for the food we wanted to eat. The choice was great, no dry falafel and hummous here, all different types of food and all vegan, pure heaven.

We had one sweep of the stalls and made a beeline for a curry and samosa stall and bought a plate of samosa chaana.

IMG_9411

If this picture doesn’t look very appetising that’s because I was so keen to gobble mine up that I totally forgot to take a picture and this is the display model that had been out all day.

It was very nice, but I have to say that I have probably spoilt myself for samosas as we have so many beautiful ones in the shops around Newcastle. My heart dreams of the ones from the Brighton Grove Foodstores, and just the day before the festival I had bought one from The Grocery on Chillingham Road(the man behind the counter assured me they were vegan). I had meandered slowly home from my Friday morning yoga class pulling peas out of the still warm pie, the batter crunchy on the outside and the filling soft and spicy on the inside. A samosa to me conjours up images of warm summer days in the park with my friends, or a treat lunch grabbed on the way somewhere fun. I have a low tolerance for a bad samosa and this one at the festival was just ok. Too much potato and a pastry that was too soggy for my taste. However the salad and curry it was served with redeemed the dish and I enjoyed sitting on a sofa in the corner of the festival people watching and plotting my next dish.

Next up we had a Seitan BBQ skewer from a stall which really did steal the show. It was amazing. Just the look of the food was enough to blow your mind.

IMG_9421-0

Seitan doner kebab bagels, cheesecakes and rice paper bacon donuts were just some of the things on offer at this stall. I don’t know how they kept it stocked all day as the products were literally flying off the table.

IMG_9422

This is what the BBQ skewer looked like.

 IMG_9420

And this is how happy I looked to be eating it

IMG_9428

It tasted just as good as it looked, the texture was exactly like meat and it was seasoned to perfection. I know that some vegans don’t like meat substitutes that are like the real thing but I didn’t give up meat because I don’t like the flavour, and when I did eat meat I was a bit of a fiend for bbq so I was thrilled to find this! I’m even working on a recipe to make it at home.

We then had a cheesecake from the same stall. (Bad form I know but they looked SO GOOD!)

IMG_9410

To be perfectly honest Andy got this for himself and I stole ‘a bite’. It was just like the real thing, and the portion was insane. Top marks!

After we filled our bellies we had another look around, lamenting that we were now too full to try all the other stalls. Here are some pics of other things on offer.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We stayed for about two hours, sampling more food and meandering through the stalls. We even discovered a club called Vegan Runners who we think we might join!

It was a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon, bumping into friends and eating lots of food, and it was well worth the very modest entry fee of £2.

I can certainly see what all the fuss is about now!

IMG_9439

 

 

Zizzi’s Vegan Pizza Review

Zizzi’s is one of those restaurants that have completely nailed their target market. They cater exactly for the easy dinner crowd. Whether it’s a staff night out, a family birthday party or a trip to town with the girls turned into a boozy lunch, you know exactly what you’re going to get and that there’ll be something on the menu to suit everyone. Before I went vegan I think I probably took places like this for granted, places that you could just fall into with a big group of people and everyone would be happy. Eating has always been a huge part of my social life and I have to admit that I have been anxious about eating out in groups of people, I don’t want to be the awkward one, but at the same time I don’t want to eat another dry falafel burger or even worse just a bowl of chips. Newcastle has a plethora of vegan and veggie restaurants but it’s unlikely you’re always going to get everyone to eat in those so it’s handy to have some ideas for places you can go in a big group. This is also handy for when you visit other cities for things like hen nights etc, if all else fails you can always go to Zizzi’s.

You really have to admire Zizzi’s new vegan menu. 

https://www.zizzi.co.uk/blog/2016/vegan-and-dairy-free-mozzarella-alternative/ 

Though it’s not expansive the addition of vegan cheese on the pizza is just a sheer thrill. That they haven’t just omitted an ingredient but have actually gone out of their way to create something especially for vegans this is genuinely exciting! They also do a gluten free vegan option so for the poor souls who are vegan AND gluten free can finally have a pizza! 

So to our trip, 

We came for a lunch after grabbing some bits in town. I’ve been suffering with wisdom tooth pain and have been quite whingy so wanted something to cheer myself up. We decided not to do starters and go for straight for the main course. 

We both went for the vegan margarita and added some additions. I had artichoke, peppers and extra pizza sauce added to mine and Andy had peppers and chillis added to his. 

  
When it arrived it was a good size and had generous portions of the extra ingredients. The cheese was very decent but tasted more like a bechmal sauce than a mozzarella, this however made for a very tasty pizza.

We shared a carafe of a red wine and we’re happy to see that most of their wines are vegan too, something that a lot of places manage to leave out. 

I was happy that I hadn’t had a starter as it was just the right amount of food for me. Well once I had pudding as well it was. 

For pudding we both went for the Vegan Necterine which was a baked Necterine with coconut and mango ice cream. It was delicious. 

  
My only complaint which is a bit of a pet hate of mine was that it was served in an unglazed stone bowl so when your spoon grated against the side it set your teeth on edge, especially not nice mixed with ice cream and wisdom teeth pain but I imagine this is a pretty niche moan, and didn’t affect the quality of the experience at all. 

The bill came to £40.75 for two mains, two puddings and a carafe of wine. I know they do one free main if you have a tastecard and they often do deals on voucher sites. 

Overall I was impressed with the quality of the food and the overall experience. It’s definitely going to the top of the list of places to go with a group of people. I didn’t feel like the vegan menu was an afterthought, and I was happy with what we got for the money. Sometimes when you visit an Italian as a vegan it feels like you’re being ripped off as you’re often charged full price even though they basically  give you a bowl of pasta and a tin of tomatoes or a pizza base and some tomato purée, this did not feel like that at all. 

Well done Zizzi’s, I can’t wait to see what you add to the menu next! 

  

Scarily Good Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff 

So this is a super quick post but I just had to share the recipe for the vegan mushroom stroganoff I just made. It was really tasty and so quick! 

Ingredients 

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

2 cloves of garlic

paprika

1 finely chopped onion

1 packet of shiitake mushrooms (if not available use any mushrooms)

1/2 packet of white mushrooms

1/2 a veggie stock cube

1 teaspoon of Bisto granules 

1 dash of soy sauce

3 tablespoons of soya cream

10 chopped black olives

Rice to serve

Method

Fry onions and garlic in the olive oil until soft.

Chop then add mushrooms and fry with paprika for 5 minutes on a high heat.

 
Add stock cube, gravy and soy sauce to 50ml of boiling water, stir until dissolved then add to pan. 

  
Heat until desired consistency

Take off heat and add soya cream and olives

  
Stir until thourghly mixed

 
Serve with rice. 

 

As you can probably see I actually served it with vegan gnocchi this evening because I couldn’t be bothered to wait for rice to cook, this was amazing but traditionally it’s served with rice. 

Ten Tips for Newbie Vegans

I have failed at being vegan or veggie more  times than I can shake a stick at. It’s taken me over 28 years to find a balance that suits me, and to find a way to make it work where I don’t feel like I’m missing out. Some people can just go cold turkey overnight but most people might have a few false starts before getting into the groove. Whether you are wanting to go full vegan, veggie, thinking about cutting down on animal products, or are just curious about the lifestyle, well done, every little helps.

Here is a list of life-hacks that might make the transition run smoothly for you 🙂

  1. Buy a slow cooker. I am not able to emphasis this point enough, this will make so much difference to your life and your efforts. When you come home tired after a day at work this is when you’re most likely to get a takeaway, or find yourself with your head in the cheese fridge at the co-op, if you know you have a hot, delicious tasty meal waiting for you this is much less likely to happen. I’m a great believer in making your life easy for yourself, the easier you can make being vegan the more likely you are to stick with it. There are many tasty, quick and healthy dishes that you can whip up in your slow cooker so you’ll never have to worry about dinner again.
  2. Superdrug’s own brand is cruelty free and mostly vegan. One thing that put me into overwhelm when I first started thinking about being vegan was cosmetics and bathroom items. I knew I didn’t want to use products that tested on animals but the deeper you dug the more difficult it seemed to be to avoid this. You can buy specialist products but they seemed to come with a hefty price tag, and it meant buying all my products from different places. Then I found out about Superdrug and it made my life so much easier. Toothpaste, mouthwash, hair dye, baby-wipes, body lotion, everything you can think of, all at reasonable prices, all with the bunny logo and clearly marked if vegan. They even do their own make up range, which is surprisingly good.
  3. Know what’s important to you. Being honest with yourself will go a long way. About 2 years ago I decided that I wanted to stop using any cosmetics that were tested on animals and this included hair products. I bought a shampoo and conditioner from Holland and Barretts and threw out all my expensive hair products. I went completely cold turkey and my hair went frizzy and dry, I saw a picture of myself and it really upset me. I didn’t want it to, I wanted to be above such shallow things but I hated my hair being in (what I thought to be) bad condition so much that it drove me straight back to my Loreal Professional shampoo. This time I did a bit of research and found Paul Mitchell, his salon range of hair care is not only completely cruelty free but also mostly vegan too. It’s more expensive than the Holland and Barrett stuff but I think it’s more than worth it as I will stick with it. Your thing might not be your hair, it might be burgers or beautiful shoes, whatever it is you need to do your research and get a viable alternative that will make you happy.
  4. Meat/dairy substituts are not substitutes they are replacements. Vegan cheese does not taste like cheese, sorry but it just doesn’t. That doesn’t mean it’s not nice, I love violife, but if you go into this thinking its going to be as good as cheese then you’re going to be disappointed, it’s not. Same with vegan meat, they are nice in their own right but the are not the same. Learn to love them for what they are and become excited about expanding your meal repertoire rather than just repeating what you ate before but with ‘substitutes’.
  5. Nutritional Yeast. Called ‘Nooch’ in the vegan community this is a yeast that has a vaguely cheesy flavour and adds a savoury kick to dishes. Buy it, sprinkle it on everything, love it.
  6. Get a good supplement. For one of my attempts at veganism I was living on a tiny boat in Brighton Marina, in October. Saying it was cold and damp is an understatement, I had nowhere to dry clothes and as a poor student I was trying to save money by cycling everywhere and would often get caught in the rain on the cycle home along the beach. I couldn’t afford to eat out and I only had a one ring gas burner and a microwave to cook my meals on, which meant that I basically lived off lentil soup and tomato pasta. Low and behold I became quite poorly. I got coldsores around my mouth and a cough that I couldn’t shake. For years I equated ‘being vegan’ with ‘being poorly’, looking back now I can see clearly that my predicament had much less to do with being vegan and much more to do with being a wally. However this time I was taking no chances and got a good quality supplement from Holland and Barretts which I take every day. The vegan diet does not supply vitamin B12 and can lack vitamin D too, this means its very sensible to top up your supplies with a supplement to stop you feeling lethargic, as this is the quickest way to drive you back to animal products. This doesn’t mean a vegan diet is unhealthy though, studies show time and time again that as long as you get your vitamin B12 from somewhere veganism is the healthiest diet out there. There’s also lots of evidence to say that even if you eat meat and dairy you should top up vitamins B12 and D with supplements anyway.
  7. Don’t do it to lose weight. If losing weight is your primary goal then chances are you’ll fail. I am EXACTLY the same weight as I was when I ate meat, my husband has lost a few pounds but that is mostly down with him not being able to eat cakes at work anymore. I have even found that I eat MORE cake as I now feel that if there’s a vegan cake available I have to take one for the team.
  8. Be clear in your mind about why you don’t want to eat meat or dairy anymore.
    I had an epiphany one day when teaching a pregnancy yoga class about the role of oxytocin in birth and breastfeeding that made me never ever want to eat dairy again. I was talking about how oxytocin is the love hormone and how it is one of the major factors in bringing the mothers milk in. That the bond that Mothers have with their babies literally stimulates the breasts to produce milk, that without it the mother can’t produce milk and if the oxytocin is disrupted then this can upset the milk supply. I was showing techniques that new mothers can do to stimulate oxytocin flow themselves, such as skin on skin contact with baby and nuzzling. I’d said these things a millions times before but for some reason I just suddenly thought about cows. It’s the cows love for their babies that enable the milk to be produced, they don’t just create milk on their own they have to have been pregnant, then have a baby that they bond with. The baby is then taken away from the cow sometimes as soon as two hours after birth, and the cows have been known to bellow and cry for their babies for weeks after. I don’t believe that animals love their babies any less than we do, they are mammals and its exactly the same hormones, doing the exact same biological functions.
    From having that thought I can’t look at dairy in the same way, when someone says ‘but do you not miss blue cheese’,  the answer is yes on one level but an a much more overwhelming level I do not have a desire to eat cow grief, which is how I now see it.Your reasons will not be the same as mine, and thats totally cool, but the clearer you are in your head as to exactly why you want to be vegan or cut down on meat, the easier it’ll be.
  9. Get used to tuning people out. EVERYBODY will have an opinion on your new diet, everybody. Suddenly people who have never ever shown an interest in how much protein you eat will be overcome with concern that you’re not getting enough. People will assume that your diet is somehow a judgement on them and feel they need to justify themselves. This will happen all the time and you can’t stop it, just learn to smile and nod and tune them out. Also arm yourself with some awesome facts relating to whatever your reason for being vegan is so that if you have had enough tuning out you can stand your ground.
  10. Find a support network, whether its a friend, a partner or a group online life is so much easier when you can take a photo of your nooch covered baked potato and send it to someone who cares. The vegan online community is very friendly (much friendlier than The Archers Fanpages, my god those places are vicious!) I suggest the What Fat Vegans Eat page for lots of recipe tips and general support.

Finally don’t expect to be perfect all the time, there’s no vegan police that are going to put you in vegan jail if you accidentally (or even not so accidentally) eat something with animal products in, just do your best and know that there’s lots of people out there going through the same thing as you.

Does anyone have any to add to the list?

A Vegan Sunday Dinner at Toby Carvery 

My family is big on eating out. My Mam, Sister, my nieces and I will often meet up for a meal, in fact everything we do revolves around food. When we visit a museum or a park it will take about 5 seconds before we’ve worked out where the cafe is and are scoffing down an early lunch, sometimes bold as brass before we’ve even entered the attraction we’ve travelled to see. Every meal had the same rythmn to it as well, we’ll get the menus out and pretend to agonise over them then we’ll ask each other what we’re thinking about having, we’ll answer and then invariably someone will say, ‘I can’t decide between a and b’ and someone else will reply ‘well why don’t I get a and you get b and we’ll share?’. Then a collective sigh of relief will go around the table as we realise we will not have to worry that someone else’s meal looks better than ours. Then we’ll eat our meals, my nieces won’t finish theirs and their plates will get passed along the table to me and I’ll polish off the last of their dinners. After that the dessert menu will come we’ll each claim that we can’t fit anything else in but will have a look anyway, then we’ll agonise over it asking each other about every last choice, ‘should I get cream or custard?’, ‘do you think the carrot cake will be nice here’, ‘I’ve got a brownie in the cupboard at home would it be bad to get one here as well?’. Each question will be considered and dissected seriously by each member of the family until we order exactly what we knew we were going to order when we spied the dessert board on the wall at the beginning of the meal. This happens EVERY TIME and it’s wonderful, it’s familiar and comforting and just the way we do things.

So when my Mam text me earlier in the week inviting me for Sunday Dinner I was a bit nervous, where could we go that everyone would be happy? My Mam is a veggie but my sister (and she asked to be described in this way) is a ‘dedicated meat eater’ so where could we go for dinner to cater for everyone?

The answer came in a quite unusual place, Toby Carvery. As an establishment famed for its meat, where the house special is. literally four different meats slapped on a plate, I was delighted to see it not only catered for vegans but was expectionally vegan friendly. 

For a start there are three, yes THREE vegan mains to choose from.  


I got the Lentil Cottage Pie and my Mam got the Spiced Carrot and Chickpea Wellington, we had agreed to swap halfway but when mine arrived it was so delicious I was reluctant to swap, though I did try my Mams and it was delicious too. (I would never get away with this with my sister, if we had agreed to swap she would wrestle it out of my cold dead hands rather than let me eat the whole thing.)

I then asked what else was vegan and the waitress said that she would bring me some steamed vegetables, roast potatoes, stuffing and vegan gravy. She even said she’d bring them to the table so I wouldn’t have to go to the Carvery where all the meat was, this wasn’t really necessary but was incredibly sweet and a gesture that was much appreciated. She brought me SO MUCH FOOD. So much food that it had to go on two plates.

 

  
The pie itself could have been a meal. Let’s have a closer look at that pie.

 
I wish this was tastevision because this was pie was a true delight. It was packed with flavour and the texture was perfect. The roast potatoes also deserve a shout out because they were cooked beautifully, crisp and tasty on the outside, fluffy and creamy on the inside. Yum!!

I did miss having a Yorkshire pudding but I just stole some of the pastry off my Mams pie and that hit the spot.

I ate solidly for about twenty minutes but I was defeated by the portion size. It was just too big. However I was not letting this go in the bin, the waitress gave me a takeaway box and I filled it right to the top with what was left on my plate and it fed both me and my husband in the evening.

 

As you all know, there is always room for dessert. The pudding stomach is real and when presented with the option of a vegan chocolate and cherry tart, well it’s going to be utilised.

   

This was so good! It had a brownie like texture and it didn’t have a weird aftertaste that vegan cakes can sometimes have. There’s only one vegan option for dessert but at least it’s an actual cake and not fruit salad. (Fruit is not a dessert people.)

Afterwards whilst we were clutching our bellies and trying not to slip into a food coma, my sister claimed that if she came back she would get the vegan lentil pie as it was nicer than her meat! 

The only thing I missed was not being to eat my nieces leftovers, but what is my loss is my Mams cat’s gain as my Mam had no qualms about wrapping a whole chicken breast in a serviette and plopping it into her handbag.

I was genuinely surprised at how good the Toby Carvery was and it will no doubt become the scene for many fake deliberations over the menu for years to come. 

What’s your favourite place to eat out with your family?

Ps I have to mention the waitress, the service was really brilliant. She was obviously rushed off her feet but she was attentive and friendly and even chatted to us about her pet rats (this was when my mam tried to sneak a Yorkshire pudding into her handbag to take it back for pet rats, the waitress offered to get her a box for it and a fresh Yorkshire pudding.) 

Slow Cooked Reggae Reggae Pulled Jackfruit 

Now this recipe has been doing the rounds for a while, I keep drooling over versions of it on the vegan forums and I just knew I had to have a go of doing a version myself.

Everybody needs a sunny Friday recipe, something that you can dance around the kitchen listening to radio 6 with a beer whilst you cook it. Something simple, easy, delicious and can either line the stomach for a night out or put you in a satisfied stupor for a night in front of the telly. This is my Friday recipe. 

First of all, what the hell is a Jackfruit and where on this earth would I buy one?? 

Well if you have ever had a baby you might recognise the jackfruit as one of the fruits your babies size is compared to in the womb by pregnancy apps but a featus size comparer is not the only hat that this versatile fruit can wear.

A Jackfruit is a tropical fruit that is used in Asian cooking, the young green fruit is savoury and the mature fruit is sweet like a mango. 

It is well known for being able to soak up flavours and having a meat like texture when cooked. These qualities really do make it ‘the jack of all fruits’. (I’ll show myself out).

You can buy it fresh or canned in syrup, brine or water.  For this recipe you will need it canned and in either brine or water. (You can use a fresh one but that takes the recipe from Funtime Friday to Fafftime Ain’t No One Can Be Arsed With That Day, and the syrupy one is just too sweet).

You can usually buy tins in Asian Supermakets but be careful to buy the right one. 

  
I bought mine from the Alternative Stores vegan supermarket in Palmersville.

Ingredients 

Two tins of young green jackfruit

Reggae Reggae Sauce

Red Chilli

2 teaspoons of brown sugar

2 teaspoons of liquid smoke

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon cumin

2 cloves garlic

1 stock cube

Method

Take jackfruit out of their tins, drain and rinse them.

Cut the core off each segment and if you can be bothered deseed them.

 

 
Once this is done put all the ingredients except the Reggae Reggae sauce in the slow cooker and cover with boiling water, you want enough water to cover then about 1cm.

Put on low and leave for 4 hours. (You can also do this in a pan for about 30 mins)

Once the jack fruit is softened take out of slow cooker with a ladle, draining away any excess liquid. 

Place on foil covered baking tray and spread out, pulling apart with two forks until it resembles pulled pork. Pop in the oven at 180 for 15 minutes.

  
Take out the oven and cover in Reggae Reggae sauce to taste. 

Put back in the oven for a further 10 minutes. 

Once out the oven serve as you would pulled pork. It’s lovely in a sandwich on its own, or in a tortilla with homemade guacamole and rice. This is how I had it yesterday. I also had a beer or two. Hmmm Friday’s!  

  
   

Memoirs Of A Geordie Vegetarian Childhood

When I was two we bought chips and mushy peas for tea which was a huge treat. As I was eating my dinner my family were watching the telly. On the screen I could see grey walls being graffitied and people shouting, and cheering. I remember putting a chip in my mouth and gagging, turning to my Mam and saying that I felt sick. For the first time in my entire life my Mam told me to shush as she was engrossed in the tv. I couldn’t believe it, my Mam was always supposed to care if I felt sick, that was her job! And as the Berlin wall fell on the screen, the thin illusion that I had clung to since birth, that there was nothing in the world more important than me, shattered. Never to return.

Looking back at that memory I can see faults in the narrative, I would have been far too young to remember the Berlin Wall falling. I’m not a fan of mushy peas and it seems unlikely I would have been given them. The house I remember is fuzzy and smooshed, like more than one house pushed together. Maybe this never happened. Maybe it’s more than one memory pieced together, but whatever it is it feels real, and important. I can’t see why it’s important, but it is, it means something. Sometimes it’s our false memories that are the most pernicious, and they are the ones that need to be listened too.

Flash forward a few years and I’m living on a Council Estate called Carr Hill in the Middle of Gateshead. We live in an end terrace (or was it a semi?) with a garden and a yard, and other than the fact the estate is overrun by unruly hooligans, and the police helicopter keeps us awake most nights, the house is lovely. I live with my Mam, my Sister, My Mam’s Lesbian Partner and our one eyed dog Louis. It’s the year of the election and the estate is covered in red posters, there’s an air of excitement and me and my sister will spend much of our time bouncing on our couch singing the words to Robin Hood but changing the name to Tony Blair. I don’t know who this Tony Blair character is but I do know he’s going to save us all.

Most days I walk to school with a young boy who has a yellow poster in his window rather than a red one. We race each other up and down the street as his Mam dawdles behind. He wears a Ninja Turtle t shirt and always has a blue stain around his lips from where he’s been drinking blue  pop. This seems rather exotic to me as my Mam will only let me have pop at the weekends and never in the morning, I imagine a world where you’re allowed to drink blue pop whenever you like and it’s glorious. One day his Mam gives me a yellow sticker to wear to school and his Mam and my Mam argue. I tell everyone that when I grow up I’m going to marry this boy but he tells everyone that when he grows up he’s going to marry a tree, and that puts an end to that.

Many years later I will meet this boy in a nightclub sometime in the dead space between Christmas and New Year, he will look exactly the same as I remember him, minus the blue stain and Ninja Turtle T Shirt. We’ll have a drunkan kiss as the DJ turns on the fake snow machine and all the time he’s kissing me I’ll think about his liberal mother and his thunderbird toys and the fact his sister never wore socks. Then I’ll leave the nightclub and I’ll never think of him again until this exact moment.

The School I go to is full of celebrations, we make coconut sweets for Diwali, put smarties inside red envelopes for Chinese New Year and sing songs for the harvest festival. At lunchtime I have to sit next to a sikh boy from another year as he is the only other vegetarian in the school, we get the same thing for dinner every day, half an egg and a neon orange lump of grated cheese that sweats under the schools strip lighting, and some sweetcorn that we never eat. To take the taste away of the cheese we’ll dip sugary biscuits into concentrated dilutey orange juice, much stronger than we’re allowed at home and we’ll wonder why we’re only given half an egg, sometimes we’ll put our eggs together to see if they are the same one (they are). The Sikh boy will tell me that for his family eating meat is against their religion and that they don’t eat quorn because his dad says that you shouldn’t even want to eat meat as it is so wrong. I will say that I love my dog and wouldn’t eat her so why would I eat another animal. I’ll explain that I don’t have a religion but that my family also believe eating meat is wrong. I’ll say that we do eat quorn, and sometimes we eat sausages that my mam’s friend Linda Maccartney makes. He says he eats lentils and I say I eat lentils too. Then we’ll scrape our uneaten sweetcorn into a bucket at the end of the table that the dinner nanny claims will ‘go to the pigs’, we never question this, we never wonder which pigs they are going to, even though we certainly never see any pigs around.

My Mam and her partner don’t believe that there’s a difference between boys and girls, I have my hair cut short and wear dungarees with mickey mouse braces. I hate them, I want my hair long and to wear twirly skirts and patent shoes with bows on them like the other girls. I wear flowery Dr Martins which 28 year old me would love but 5 year old me despises. Everyone at school thinks I’m a boy, it doesn’t help that I’m called Jo. All the children say I’m a boy and I get tired of saying I’m not. The dinner nanny in the lunch queue calls me ‘son’ and when I tell her I’m a girl she looks at me with pity and says, ‘of course you are son’. One day I beg my Mam to let me wear a hair band, she lets me as long as I don’t tell her partner. We buy it from the chemist on the way home from school, we get a hair band and a lolly in the shape of a whistle that you can make a noise with until you get too impatient and bite into it. The hair band is denim and I am so excited to wear it to school the next day. The next day all the children ask me why a boy is wearing a hairband, and I throw the hairband in the bin.

Fast forward again and now I live in another council estate, this time in High Heaton. Most of the houses here were bought up in the right to buy schemes and other than the occasional family or old person, now its mostly young couples who live in them. Houses sell fast here and its referred to as an ‘up and coming area’. I live with my husband and our two cats, no one ever mistakes me for a boy and I have long hair, often wear twirly skirts, and I own at least 2 pairs of shoes with bows on them.

A lot of the red posters in the windows turned yellow, then green, then red again. Tony Blair came and went, and the Tories came back in. My one eyed dog died of liver failure and I was heartbroken, and I still think eating animals is wrong.

I’m going to stop my writing here, not because I have come to the end but because I could write this forever.

I showed this writing to my loving husband who said it needed a clearer narrative, that I had to be more defined in what I was trying to say to stop it turning into self indulgent drivel. The fact is though, I don’t really know what the point of this is yet, I know there is a connection here but I can’t quite make out the shape or the form. Like when you see a star in the sky but when you look directly at it, it disappears. My well meaning husband says that I could risk it appearing like a ‘teenage diary’, but I don’t mind that, a teenage diary is better than words left unsaid. Anyway teenage diaries are magnificent, the mundane, the fierce, the confused and raw. When did we stop writing because we were worried what we said was wrong? That people would mock us? Pick up your pens dear reader, we have drivel to write!

192753_1832585048099_2108753_o