Friday, January 18, 2019

The flesh is weak

A friend said to me in an email yesterday: Don’t know about you, but endless political turmoil is so very unsettling in almost every aspect of daily life. No matter how much you try to keep it at arm’s length, there’s an underlying agitation. 

That's exactly how I feel this week. I can't settle. 

But let's try to think about something else...

How do you feel about veganism? The only time I've considered it in the past has been when I've heard the cows in the adjacent field crying for their calves. 

Things are different now. We've had a couple of vegans in the family for a year now, and every time I have thought about cooking for them I've felt annoyed. I know, I know, this is most uncivil of me. It's not as though I eat a lot of meat. And it's only a step further than cooking for vegetarians, which I've been doing since 1971.[sic]  It's just...what the hell do you do for flavour when you can't use cheese?

You recall that fruit cake I was having trouble with before Christmas? It was a vegan Christmas cake I was making as a present for said vegans. One liked it, the other could taste the baking powder. I'm going to use chia seeds gloop as the raising agent next time, if there is a next time.

Anyway, two weeks ago I heard a short radio programme about sustainability and saving the planet, and it made such a good case for veganism that I was completely persuaded that it was the right way to eat. I have not become a vegan - come on, I was brought up on a mixed farm in the 50s - but it has made me completely sympathetic to their requirements. I still feel irritated by the things I can't use in recipes, but I don't feel cross with the vegans themselves. I admire them for doing the right thing.

I decided that although I'm not willing to be a vegan myself yet, I would move towards it and cook some vegan meals for myself every week. (I don't cook for Dave. His aspergers makes him graze, and anyway most of his diet consists of yoghurt. And before you ask, I'd rather not answer questions about his diet right now. It's not relevant.) 

I started the new regime by making some beanburgers which were easy to make from store cupboard ingredients, but they were tasteless.

This week I tried again. I saw I had four large flat mushrooms languishing in the fridge salad drawer that needed eating, and I made some mushroom and nut burgers. I made up the recipe. They were amazingly tasty, but then I had found  a small lump of vegan 'parmesan' cheese in the fridge, left there by a vegan at Christmas, and I'd grated that into the mix. I also added soy sauce. They tasted great, and something I might even choose on a menu. 

I was feeling pretty pleased with myself and wondering what I would try to make next, and maybe I could be a vegan one day, when I popped into the Co-op to buy some hummus and came out with said hummus and a ribeye steak. 

I ate it last night. It was delicious. 

But I'm not giving up. I'll try more vegan stuff next week. 


Anonymous said...

Sue - we are on the same journey, but considerably assisted by an excellent ‘box’ service (Mindful Chef) which delivers packs of measured ingredients for a number of main meals each week. We now regularly select 2 vegan, 1 fish, 1 chicken - which leaves 3 nights a week to extemporise (pizza, pasta, occasional steak/roast dinner.)

There are definitely some flavour learnings which show up in the best of the vegan menus (soy, chilli, spices.)

And like you - we have been genuinely shocked to find that we are actively enjoying the tasty and filling (vegan) meals.
Feels like a re-education and attitude adjustment, not a hardship.

Anonymous said...

What’s wrong with baking soda?

Sally said...

Hi Sue, My daughter is vegan, though happy to be vegetarian when home, which, of course, is far easier to cater for.Staying with her over Christmas we (4 carnivores!) happily ate veggie for four days. Though must confess I cooked a turkey Christmas Dinner on retuning home! Much as I love vegan & vegetarian food & believe it is of huge benefit to individual health & our planet, I don't plan to give up meat & fish,just eat less of it & keep experimenting with recipes. I cooked with celeriac for the first time this week - yummy! Don't know what took me so long.
Herbs & spices are great for adding extra flavour. Your mushroom burgers sound like a winner.

Anonymous said...

My daughter and I enjoy eating vegetarian now and again but we find the vegan thing a bit difficult and tasteless, as you point out. The other thing about it is, if they won’t have anything to do with animal products, we can’t understand why they insist on using names of animal products for what they eat: vegan cheese, soya milk (an illegal term, incidentally as only stuff from cattle, sheep and goats can be called milk) veggie burger or tofu steak?

Sue Hepworth said...

What's wrong with baking soda? Without eggs as another raising agent, the extra baking powder can be tasted and it's horrid.

As for the names of the vegan products being based on animal ones - I really don't have a problem with that. Some people are giving up meat not because they don't like the flavour, but for one or more ethical reasons. Language changes all the time. and I would argue that soya milk is not an illegal term when it clearly says it's from soya.

Anonymous said...

Surely, if you can say 'coconut milk' you can also say 'soya milk.'

Anonymous said...

Thank you for explaining the baking soda problem. What shocked me recently was seeing a ‘bleeding’ veggie burger (I don’t remember the actual ingredients but it was definitely non meat). Each to their own I guess.

Sue Hepworth said...

A bleeding veggie burger sounds disgusting, but yes, each to his own.

Anon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sue Hepworth said...

Actually, I disagree. The bleeding veggie burger sounds so perverted and unnatural.
But I'm talking about visual imagery, not butchery.

Unknown said...

Went to a new friends house last weekend and had the tastiest vegan risotto cakes. They were rolled in finely chopped nuts before cooking. So tasty. LRH

Phoebe said...

My daughter was vegan for a while and it was an ideological nightmare. Luckily it’s an occasional menu option now, not a religion, which I think is a good (and healthful) choice. A suggestion: consult a vegan cookbook or two for ideas. And finally, I’m sure you’re aware that there are many meat substitutes in the vegan repertoire. This is good because one can avoid, if one chooses, the ecological burden of meat consumption, while simultaneously fulfilling the craving. However this craving does point to our being omnivores, and for me in summertime there’s nothing like the occasional piece of grilled steak.

Sue Hepworth said...

Thank you for your helpful comment, Phoebe,
It seems that there is something inside me that urges me, as soon as I pursue the vegan ideal, to bring home some bacon. We are omnivores - we have those incisors for ripping meat, and I have my father’s and several generations of farmers’ genes to contend with. Today I’m going to marinade some tofu for tomorrow’s tea.