A steakhouse isn’t a vegetarian’s natural environment and I usually also steer well clear of ‘family friendly’ restaurants but, when the Malta Inn in Maidstone asked me to review their newly-refurbished Beefeater restaurant, I thought, ‘Well, I’m sure I won’t starve, so why not?’ It would also give me a chance to see what a Beefeater is like now as I hadn’t been to one in about thirty years.
I love sprouts. Not those overcooked slimy green things you were forced to eat at Christmas as a child, but the sprouts you can grow yourself from seeds, grains and pulses, such as alfalfa and chickpea. Not only are they deliciously crispy and crunchy and a great way to liven up a salad, they’re also stupidly good for you. For example, did you know the nutritional value (including the protein, fibre and vitamin content) of a seed, grain or pulse is improved when sprouted? There are also loads of other benefits to them – read this article at Living and Raw Foods for more information.
So, why not grow your own sprouts – it’s cheap, easy, and, despite what you might think, there’s no need for any special trays or equipment (says she who does indeed have a special sprouting tray).
I have a confession to make. I like – nay, love – those pizza subs you get in the supermarket for £1. Although the ones I buy in Tesco only have ‘normal’ ingredients that you’d find in a pizza you’d make yourself from scratch (wheat flour, tomato purée, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, water, yeast, salt, rapeseed oil, sugar, dried herbs, dried garlic and spices), I can’t help thinking that something in a packet that costs so little can’t be the healthiest of choices. So, I decided to make my own pizza subs but on a panini instead of a baguette and with fresh homemade vegan mozzarella adapted from the moxarella recipe at Vedged Out.
My friend Jacqui (who I interviewed here and who wrote about her stay at Jacob’s Ridge/The Pig Village here) mentioned the other day how much she and her family like the Tesco Free From Soya Medium Cheese. Although there are almost as many opinions on vegan cheese varieties/makes as there are actual vegans, I took her recommendation in good faith, especially as she’s the only vegan in her house. I mean, if dairy-cheese eaters like it, it must be good, right? Wrong. Really wrong. So wrong I immediately unfriended her and asked her for the package of chocolate orange I gave her back, even though I hate chocolate orange (this isn’t actually true (the unfriending bit, that is – the ‘I hate chocolate orange’ is most definitely true) and she’s probably eaten the chocolate already anyway).
This is a sponsored post
There’s a misconception that dairy-free spread tastes weird. I’m not sure why people think this – I mean, yes, it’s not quite as rich and creamy as full-fat dairy butter but it’s usually made with plant oil and there’s nothing weird about that. Flora Freedom is a new dairy-free spread that tastes the same as the regular spread in the Flora range but is suitable for vegetarians, vegans and those who are lactose intolerant. Made from rapeseed oil and sustainable palm oil, it contains 60% less saturated fat than butter and is free from artificial preservatives, colours and flavours. And you can do whatever it is you do with the dairy Flora: frying, baking, spreading, or just eating straight from the tub (really? You do that? Ick).
My friend Jacqui (who I did a Q&A with about becoming vegan last year) spent a week volunteering at Jacob’s Ridge (better known as The Pig Village) and you can read all about it here. Thanks, Jacqui!
My week at Jacob’s Ridge (or Excuse me Miss, but there appears to be a pig trying to get in my tent)
Early last summer, when I was a relatively new vegan, I posted on a vegan Facebook group asking if fellow vegans could suggest suitable food that I could cook while camping in Norfolk. One of the responders, Lynn, told me to forget Norfolk and instead to get myself over to a place called Pig Village, an animal sanctuary based at Jacob’s Ridge in Southern Spain. This vegan idyll offered opportunities to volunteer with the day-to-day care of the animals, sleep in a glamping style bell tent and eat lashings of home prepared vegan cuisine. I didn’t need to be told twice, so I contacted Jacob’s Ridge for more information and, when the dates were announced in September for the upcoming summer season, I was one of the first in the queue to book.
What do you do when you’ve got half a block of puff pastry and half a vegetarian haggis in the freezer, a leftover field mushroom in the fridge and a cabbage in your veg box delivery? Make vegetarian haggis, mushroom and cabbage pasties of course! I love finding leftover pastry in the freezer as I haven’t found anything that isn’t improved by being wrapped in pastry. Well, ice cream might be a bit rubbish, I suppose, but the combination of vegetables and pastry is always a winner.
The Vegetarian Italian Kitchen cookbook has only one thing about it that annoys me – Veronica Lavenia uses a few cheeses that are NEVER vegetarian and not once does she suggest a vegetarian alternative*. I don’t know what will happen when/if we leave the EU and whether we can happily sod their laws and make our own cheese and call it what we want but, at the moment, as any self-respecting vegetarian can (and will) tell you, Parmesan/Parmigiano-Reggiano is an EU Protected Designation of Origin product and has to be made using calf rennet, therefore making it unsuitable for vegetarians. And if you don’t believe me, you can read The Vegetarian Society’s cheese fact sheet which also points out that Gorgonzola (also used in the book) is never vegetarian either.
[*The author, Veronica Lavenia, has seen this post and here’s her reply:
I would say this is the first in a new series of monthly round-ups but, knowing me, it’ll be a haphazard monthly series that doesn’t appear monthly as one would reasonably expect a monthly series to do. This haphazardness is especially likely as I had planned to start my round-ups with a round-up of May’s recipes, reviews and samples at the beginning of June, but when it got to the 28th of June, I thought that was probably a bit too late for a May round-up. (Update: Writing this post has taken far longer than I thought it would when I started it on 6 July – it’s now the 11th.)
I used to resent quiche. I resented it for looking like a pizza but having neither the taste nor the texture of one but I mostly resented it for usually being the only thing available to a vegetarian at a buffet. It was also – to my mind – the realm of little old ladies who had that little old lady smell about them. Therefore, I avoided quiche for years and it’s only been in the last few years I’ve been able to eat it without feeling like I’m punishing myself. I still ignore it at buffets though as a matter of principle.