I never knew fresh apricots were extinct. I wanted to make the apricot appetiser mocktail from The Virgin Cocktail Garden as it looked simple, with just a few ingredients easily found in the shops. Or so I thought. Could I find fresh apricots? Could I bollocks. I looked online at Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons but I could only find dried and I’d been sure fresh apricots were as easy to find as apples. Google suggested I use peaches or nectarines in place of apricots and so, because I dislike the fuzziness of peaches, I bought nectarines instead. (I have since investigated and found out apricots are in season in the UK from May to September so I’m going to look for them then, even if I don’t want any. It’s become a matter of principle.)
Veganuary‘s over and maybe you took part and maybe you didn’t. Maybe you thought, ‘Pah, I ain’t jumping on no bandwagon. Especially one that involves not eating cheese.’ Or maybe you did take part but struggled in the supermarket trying to decipher what was vegan and what wasn’t and would have quite happily lived on non-dairy Ben & Jerry’s for the month of January had it not cost five pound fucking fifty pee a tub.
I’ve just realised I’ve put ‘cookbooks’ in the title when, actually, only one is a cookbook (clue: it’s not the one that says ‘skincare’). But, as the skincare book uses vegetables and other edibles, when you’ve finished making stuff for your skin, you can eat the leftovers, so it’s kind of the same thing, yeah?
I’ve had quite a few vegetarian and vegan cookbooks sent to me lately, so I thought I’d do a post introducing them all to you. Some names may be familiar to you (Meat Free Monday, Áine Carlin, and Simon Rimmer for example), some possibly less so and a couple of them are unlike any cookbooks I’ve seen before. In no particular order, here they are:
I did Veganuary in 2016. I didn’t do it in 2017 because – to be blunt and because I haven’t really got a valid reason – I couldn’t be bothered. However, I’m now practically plant-based, partly thanks to moving to a town with a veggie/vegan cafe just down the road and an Italian restaurant that has vegan cheese for their pizzas and partly thanks to living on my own again and being able to eat whatever the flipping flop I want no matter how vegan it is. (Yes, me and The Meat Eater have parted ways but don’t worry, it’s all amicable. And I mean properly amicable, not amicable as in publicly-announce-on-Facebook-it’s-amicable-then-publicly-slag-each-other-off-on-Facebook-a-week-later-amicable.)
Although I’ve been a fan of Masterchef since Loyd Grossman presented the show in its primary-coloured-cornered olden days, it’s rare for me to remember any of the contestants. Jackie Kearney, however, is one I remember because, as far as I was aware at the time, she was the first vegetarian cook to be on Masterchef and, not only that, she was the first vegetarian chef to get to the finals in the show. (I also remember Jackie because, despite being vegetarian, she cooked meat on the show, which I thought was a shame but I suppose she couldn’t just sit out the rounds where they had to cook badgers’ eyeballs with prawn brain jus or whatever weirdo things they make them cook on there).
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: