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Curried Mock Duck

It’s been a while since we posted a recipe post and so I thought I’d kick start the posts with a simple yet delish dish. This recipe is so quick and easy you could do it with your eyes closed. I first discovered it on a new app I got for my phone called ‘Veg Web’ and it’s becoming a firm favourite in my repertoire. Try it out for yourself – you won’t be disappointed.

What you need:

1 1/2 Cups of basmati rice

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 cups of vegetable broth (or veggie stock!)

1/2 head of shredded cabbage

2 Onions, sliced

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

3 (10 ounce) cans of mock duck, sliced

1/2 can coconut milk

2 tablespoons of curry powder

1/4 soy sauce

How you do it:

1. In a saucepan heat 2 tablespoons of oil and add the basmati rice. Cook until light brown (be careful not to burn it- no one likes crusty rice!) Add the vegetable broth/ stock and cook until done. Approx. 15-20 minutes.

2. In a large pan, heat the remainder of the oil. Add the shredded cabbage and the onions and saute for around 3-5 minutes until slightly brown. Add the garlic and saute for approx. 1 minute.

3. Add the mock duck, curry powder, and coconut milk and cook on high until thickened.

4. Stir in the soy sauce and serve over rice.

And that’s it! I was surprised myself as to how simple yet tasty this was. I cooked up a batch and kept it covered in the fridge and took it to work for a few days for lunch.

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Vegan Portobello Stroganoff

I’ve always wanted to try out a vegan stroganoff and so the other day I decided I would finally get round to doing it. I looked around at a couple of recipes but in the end I opted to try out Isa’s recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance seeing as I’ve always had so much success with her recipes in the past. I stupidly forgot to pick up some rice for this dish when I was out shopping for the ingredients, but I did have some potatoes so I decided to stray away from the norm and served this up with a nice jacket potato that had been slowly cooking in the oven. And I must say I was not disappointed with the results.

Her actual recipe calls for ‘seitan’, however, I haven’t been able to make any of this myself yet as I have yet to get a hold of some vital wheat gluten so instead I just used mushrooms for the first batch (the ones I have photographed) but for the second batch I added some fry’s beef style pieces which took this dish to a whole new level of tastiness and according to my dad (who isn’t vegan or even vegetarian) it was just as good as the real deal. So if that isn’t reason enough to try this one out for yourself I don’t know what is!

.::What you need:

2 tablespoons of cornflour (or arrowroot powder)

475ml/ 16fl oz vegetable stock (or cold water)

2 teaspoons olive oil

6 shallots, thinly sliced

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

150g/ 5oz thinly sliced mushrooms

2 portobello caps, thinly sliced (if like mine yours came in a pack of 4 here’s an idea what to do with the left overs!)

2 tablespoons of fresh thyme, chopped

2 teaspoons of salt

250ml/ 8fl oz red wine (make sure it’s vegan! If in doubt and you come from the UK Marks and Spencers have a very nice selection of vegan wines!)

1 tablespoon paprika

8 tablespoons of nutritional yeast

120ml/4fl oz plain soy milk

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

115g/ 4oz frozen peas

4 potatoes for jackets! (This recipe serves four, however, it keeps pretty well in the fridge so I popped the leftovers in a container and just heated it up a couple of days later, adding the fry’s beef style pieces. I actually think the sauce tasted a little better than it did the first time round for reason! Worth keeping in mind!) If you are going to try out potatoes, if possible try cooking them slowly in the oven. This usually takes around an hour depending on how big your potatoes are, if you have the time it’s definitely worth it because they end up nice and crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. However, to save some time, cook the potatoes in the microwave for around 5-7minutes and then pop in the oven for 5-10 minutes prior to serving. Feel free however, to just use rice or even noodles as Isa does in the book!

step one: prepare the potatoes, as above, or prepare rice/ noodles according to packets instructions.

step two: Dissolve the cornflour (or arrowroot) in the stock (or water); set aside.

step three: Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and the onions, sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and both types of mushrooms, and the thyme. Sauté for 15 minutes.

(step three and half: if you’re using seitan or beef style pieces, heat up a pan around now and cook in some frying oil)

step four: Add the salt, wine, and paprika. Turn up the heat to high to reduce the liquid, about 10 minutes.

step five: Lower the heat to medium-high, add the cornflour (or arrowroot) mixture, stir well, and let the sauce thicken for about 5 minutes. Add the nutritional yeast and mix well until it is dissolved. Add the soy milk and the mustard and bring the heat down to low; be careful not to let the it boil now because it can make it taste bitter. Add the peas, (and the seitan or beef pieces if using!) and cook for a further 10 minutes.

step six: Serve and enjoy!

Vegan Phad Thai

O.k. so this is not strictly speaking a ‘traditional phad thai’ recipe but nonetheless it’s still seriously tasty! It’s so good in fact my none vegan friends and relatives are forever asking me to cook it for them and I myself eat this pretty much all the time. Not only that but it’s so easy to make and doesn’t take long at all, nor does it require any particular skill in the kitchen. Another great thing about this recipe for me is that I can use whatever vegetables I happen to have in at that moment, and the ingredients for the sauce are stuff I always keep in my cupboard so this is literally my go too recipe when I just want something simple but tasty. I have adapted this recipe from a little vegan cook book called ‘Vegan with a Vengeance’ which, if you haven’t already, you MUST check out!

.::What you need:

450g/ 1lb rice noodles

4 tablespoons of groundnut oil (note: this recipe serves 4 so if your wok is quite small you may want to fry the ingredients in two smaller batches, in which case you will need 6 tablespoons. The frying part only takes 3-4 minutes so every one can still eat together!)

1 block of tofu, drained and pressed and cut into small triangles (or if you can get hold of them some pre-marinaded tofu pieces. I usually use Cauldron’s tofu pieces if I can’t be bothered to wait a half an hour whilst my tofu drains!)

1 medium sized red onion, chopped into strips

1 pepper, chopped into strips (the colour of it is up to you!)

1 courgette, cubed (or zucchini if you’re American!)

– Some asparagus tips, halved

– A handful of mushrooms, chopped

8 spring onions, sliced

1 pak choi

For the sauce:

6 tablespoons of tamari (or soy sauce if you don’t have tamari)

3 tablespoons of agave (or 6 tablespoons of sugar)

2 tablespoons of chilli sauce or hot sauce (I like my spice so I usually put in a little more, but go with your gut!)

2 tablespoons of sun dried tomato paste (or tomato purée)

3 tablespoons of lime juice (or lemon)

3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar

Sprinkling of chilli flakes

step 1: Prepare the rice noodles according to the directions on the packet (unless you’re using the straight-to-wok option which is great for the washing the up!)

Step 2: Mix together the ingredients for the sauce

step 3: Preheat a large wok or frying pan over a medium to high heat. Pour two tablespoons of oil in the pan and heat. Add the tofu. Stir fry for about 4 to 5 minutes until crispy. Remove and place on a piece of kitchen towel.

step 4: (if you’re frying in batches remember to half these ingredients!)  Pour two tablespoons of oil into the pan. Add the onion and stir fry for around 30 seconds. Add the rest of the veggies and stir fry for another 30 seconds to a minute (depending on how crisp you like them!). Add the sauce. As soon as the sauce bubbles (which should be more or less straight away) add the noodles. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the tofu, spring onions and pak choi. Stir fry for another 30 seconds.

step 5: serve and enjoy!

The easy Vegan’s guide to the perfect Mac ‘n’ Cheese!

Being vegan is the best thing I ever decided to do. But sometimes I get this pesky little craving for good old fashioned mac and cheese and it just won’t go away. So I trawled the interweb and came across a couple of recipes, most using this thing called ‘nutritional yeast’. Now, I have heard of this curious little product before and have always wanted to try it but I couldn’t seem to find it anywhere. I had looked in my health food store but I had always come back empty handed, unable to successfully locate it. But I now find that this was down to my eyes, as they say, ‘being painted on’, as whilst browsing the array of vegan mayonnaise on offer I turned around and what did I stumble on? Yup, nutritional yeast. It had been there all along, hiding from me. I was literally so happy I pretty much ran home with my find and started on the task at hand: satisfying my ever growing cravings for mac and cheese! I must say I wasn’t disappointed with the results. This was literally the best mac and cheese I have had in my life. Ever. I couldn’t get enough of it and neither could dear old flouncel. We made tonnes of the stuff, hoping that it would last a couple of days, but it’s so tasty that you’ll be lucky if it lasts the evening let alone, being able to have any for lunch the next day! But it takes less than half an hour to make so it won’t take long to whip up some more!

Without further ado::.

Ingredients:

700g (1.5lbs) pasta, preferably macaroni but feel free to just get your favourite shape of pasta!

for the sauce:

350ml (1.5 cups) unsweetened nondairy milk

65g (1.5 cups) nutritional yeast

250ml (1 cup) vegetable oil (or canola/ rapeseed oil)

250ml (1 cup)water

80ml (1/3 cup) tamari or soy sauce

1 block of firm tofu (not silken!)

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon salt

1 dollop mustard (optional, but I highly recommend using it!)

The method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350°F or gas mark 4. Boil some water in a pan and add the pasta. Cook according to packet’s instructions.

2. Add all the sauce ingredients together in a blender and blend until smooth.

3. Drain the pasta and put in a large baking tray. Pour the sauce over the top and whack it in the oven for around 15 minutes or until the top is a lovely golden brown and your kitchen smells deliciously cheesy (for the first time in years!)

4. Serve and enjoy!

**EXTRAS**

The great thing about this recipe is the potential to go crazy with it! It’s just so versatile. Remember recipes are only the beginning of exciting culinary adventures don’t follow them mercilessly like sheep. Be adventurous and have some fun with it!

-Why not try adding a few sprinkles of fake parmesan on top

-Add in some peas or green beans or indeed any other green veggies of your choice!

-If you’re worried about the amount of oil, try using a bit less and substitute a little vegan margarine

-I don’t always like adding salt to my recipes so if you’re the same there’s no harm in adding less or even omitting it completely

-Add some bread crumbs on the top. Makes for a crisper topping! 🙂

-You could also use this sauce on top of cauliflower to make a delicious cauliflower cheese side dish! Perfect for those Roast dinners!

All in all, this makes for a fabulously cheesey dish to help keep those cheese cravings in check and I’m sure you’ll love it just as much as we do!

Behind closed doors in Iowa

As some of you may be aware, Iowa state plan to vote on two bills that if passed will make undercover video of animal abuse on farms illegal and punishable by a $7000 fine and up to 5 years in prison. This is insane. This is not only a breach of animal welfare rights but also human rights; these bills are effectively silencing freedom of speech.  Fundamentally, these bills are more focused on protecting the farming and agriculture industry because they hold a huge economic impact. But what about our rights? 

Surely this whole façade clearly demonstrates that there is a problem with the farming industry abusing animals. Animal rights activists document animal ABUSE. If there was no abuse then no doubt there would be fewer damning videos. Some of these farmers that have had video evidence of their animal abuse released have said these undercover videos are ‘underhanded’. It’s almost as if they are suggesting that it is the video recording that is immoral. Not the abuse.

“They’re trying to intimidate whistleblowers and put a chill on legitimate anti-cruelty investigations. Clearly the industry feels it has something to hide or it wouldn’t be going to these extreme and absurd lengths.” (Bradley Miller, national director of Humane Farming Association)

“They are trying to criminalise someone for being an eyewitness to a crime” (PETA)

Instead of tackling the issue first hand and putting a stop to this inhumane abuse of animals the industry seem to want to take the easy way out and ban people discovering what goes on behind closed doors. I see it only fitting to quote Gretchen Wyler here:

“We must not refuse with our eyes what they endure with their bodies”

And so the Iowa government must not be allowed to ban our eyes from seeing what’s behind the door.

 

*UPDATE* Apparently Florida are also proposing a similar bill with much harsher penalties: £10,000 fine and up to 30 years prison time! Pure insanity. Especially when these people are witnesses to crimes! Sadly it seems this is a growing trend. Hopefully it can be nipped in the bud before it gets out of hand. What’s next?

Spaghetti tofu balls

This dish is great for everyone and the tofu balls are a fun addition to  plain old spaghetti. A great substitute if you’re bored of soy mince. Nicely served with a fruity red vegan wine!

.::What you will need:

-250g/90z firm tofu, drained (see:the taming of the tofu (not shrew))

-1 onion, coarsely chopped

-2 garlic cloves, crushed

-5ml/1 tsp wholegrain mustard

-15ml/1 tbsp ground cumin

-1 small bunch of parsley, finely chopped

-15ml/ 1tbsp tamari or soy sauce (which ever you prefer but if you go with the tamari use slightly less)

-50g/2oz/half cup ground almonds

-30ml/2 tbsp olive oil

350g/12oz spaghetti

sea salt and ground black pepper

basil for garnish

.::for the sauce

-15ml/1 tbsp olive oil

-1 large onion, finely chopped

-2 garlic cloves, chopped

-1 large aubergine (or eggplant if you’re in the USA!), diced

-2 courgettes (or zucchini), diced

-1 red (bell) pepper, seeded and finely chopped

-15ml/1 tbsp agave syrup

-400g/14oz can chopped tomatoes

-200ml/7fl oz/1 cup vegetable stock

-1 tbsp sun dried tomato paste (optional)

Step one, make the tofu balls: Tear up the drained tofu into little pieces then place this along with the grated onion, crushed garlic, mustard, ground cumin, chopped parsley, soy sauce, and ground almonds into a bowl. Season to taste and mix thoroughly. Roll up your sleeves and start rolling the mixture into walnut sized balls, squishing the mixture with your hands.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then add the tofu balls (I would recommend trying out a couple of the balls first, our first attempt was rather a failure to say the least (see picture!) But, as you can see, we soon got the hang of it!).

Cook gently, turning them occasionally until brown all over. Remove from pan and set aside on some kitchen roll.

Step two, prepare the sauce: Heat the remaining oil in the same pan. Add the onion, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes until softened.

Add the aubergine, courgette, pepper, and agave syrup, and stir fry for around 10 minutes until vegetables begin to brown and have softened (as my handy assistant is doing in the photo to your left!) Season to taste.

Stir in the tomatoes  and stock (and sun dried tomato paste if using). Cover the mixture and simmer for about 20minutes or until sauce has thickened. Just before the end of cooking time add the tofu balls to the mix to heat through for about 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the pasta in a large pan of slightly salted, boiling water according to packet’s instructions.

Serve, garnished with basil.

Chickens can feel empathy too, shame about the people…

Whilst trawling through the internet I stumbled upon this rather interesting news article. Apparently scientists have now discovered:

adult female birds possess at least one of the essential underpinning attributes of empathy.

Basically this study found that mother hens are distressed when their chicks were disturbed by a ‘puff of air’. Now, I’m no scientist but this study, to me, seems rather obvious? Why is it that we are only now coming to conclusions that animals just might have feelings too?

But should the fact that animals have feelings mean that we shouldn’t eat them? In my research I came across this article on the same topic. Now it wasn’t really the article itself that made me post it here, but rather the insensitive comments at the bottom. People are entitled to their own opinions and I believe it is important to form and stress our opinions on different topics. Everyone’s opinions are valid. However, what gets to me most about negative comments on vegetarian and vegan issues is how uninformed carnivores tend to be. I would quite happily have an in-depth conversation with a carnivore and talk about each others views on the topic but I have yet to come across a carnivore that can form a rational opinion for why we should eat meat that wasn’t born out of his stomachs desire. The fact is most carnivore’s seem to think with their stomachs and not with their minds. They don’t seem to care about gaining all the information and processing it rationally and developing  a sound and structured argument in their favour. The reason? Because they’re ashamed to admit that what they are doing is wrong. They don’t want to hear the copious amounts of research and information because they want to continue what they are doing and so form weak arguments against vegetarianism. In fact, as I’m sure you’re aware, arguing with carnivores is like arguing with a three year old.

The one argument against vegetarianism that makes me mad more than any other has to be this one:

“If we we are not meant to eat meat, then Mother Nature would not have allowed our bodies to handle it.”

The reason this kind of argument angers me is to do with the amount of ignorance this statement generally comes with.If these people bothered to read the literature available, they would discover that actually our bodies are more optimised for plant based diets. The most convincing article I have read on this topic  would have to be this one here. I challenge any carnivore to read this article and then come back to me with their rational thoughts on the matter. Some of the key points this article stresses are:

  • “Our so-called ‘canine teeth’ are “canine” in name only.” This is to say that other plant eaters have canine teeth and ours closely resemble those of the chimp (who are almost exclusively vegan!)
  • “Our early ancestors from at least four million years ago were almost exclusively vegetarian.”
  • “Our omnivorism means we’re capable of eating meat (useful from a survival standpoint if that’s all that’s available), but our bodies aren’t geared for it to be a normal,significant part of our diets.”
  • “Our teeth, saliva, stomach acid, and intestines are most similar to other plant-eaters, and dissimilar to carnivores and true omnivores.”

These are just some of the issues brought up in the article above and I must say it is compelling reading. Whilst the article comes up with a lot points as to why our bodies are more geared towards plant based diets he does go on to say that this doesn’t mean that there isn’t any evidence to the contrary. However, when there is more evidence for rather than against you have to ask yourself this, which is the stronger argument? Carnivores will undoubtedly say their own despite the lack of strong evidence, but in a game of football if one team scores 6 and the other scores 1 the team with 6 goals surely wins? Now you can’t argue with that!

Another statement that particularly irks me is this one:

You know..plants are alive too. They are living things.”

These people are morons. I’m not afraid of saying that. Are they actually suggesting that plants are on the same level as other animals? Do you not regard your pet dog higher than a lettuce leaf? Because to me this is what your argument suggests. Oh, you’re just talking about animals you don’t care about? Right. Got it. Moron. This is a pathetic statement and one that I refuse to acknowledge (except for just now!). It goes hand in hand with this argument:

But other animals eat animals so why shouldn’t I?

Well this is a fine observation and I will give these people a gold star for their observation techniques. They clearly have some thought process. However, what they fail to note is that in the wild it’s all about survival of the fittest. In the wild the hunted have a chance to get away from the hunter if it’s own evolution has served it well enough. Back in our world we force animals to endure no end of pain and suffering, give them barely enough room to stand in, take their young away from them, and force them to eat gallons upon gallons of utter shit and then kill them in barbaric ways, (amongst other vile things that people would rather be ignorant to so they can enjoy there chicken dinner without guilt). Never once giving them a chance. I don’t think you can compare other species to ours when it’s a fixed race all along. And when you show these people the evidence above this argument has little stand on.

Another point I wish to stress before I finish is that the arguments for vegetarianism go far beyond our bodies abilities to simply process meat. It goes beyond desires, tastes, and people’s view of animals. There are environmental reasons for plant based diets. I read that if everyone went vegetarian you could feed the whole world and have food left over. While people still eat meat you can only feed a third of it (This is from a fact sheet from Peta). The meat industry is slowly but surely destroying our amazing landscapes and natures hard work by gutting down trees and preparing land for livestock. When you think about these other factors and results of  the meat industry it makes you feel guilty. In fact, it makes carnivores appear rather selfish, don’t you think?

So I put this last thought out to the carnivores of this world. Whilst you sit there eating your bacon cheese burger, take a moment to think about everything that it stands for. Think about how much of the world you’ve destroyed for your second of enjoyment!

If you’re not convinced, why not ask your doctor about meat, below! Enjoy.

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