Thursday, October 29, 2009

the UK 100

There have been a lot of local versions of the Vegan 100 list floating around- for example, the NYC 100 and the Portland 100. I've wanted to play along, but there is no Syracuse 100! So instead, I decided to take this UK 100 list posted by Liz and try my hand at it- after all, I did live in England for a few months! I'm curious to see how I do. If you've lived in the UK, or have visited, or are just an Anglophile (Britophile?), why not play along?

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:
1) Copy this list into your own blog, including these instructions.

2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.

3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

4) Post a comment here once you’ve finished and link your post back to this one.
5) Pass it on!

All items on the list refer to the vegan version.
Please don’t contact me to tell me that butter isn’t vegan, for example. I mean a vegan version of it!

Hampshire watercress


Montezumas chocolate

Melting mozarella Cheezly


Granose Mock Duck

Churros at Terre a Terre

Yorkshire pudding

Beans on toast


Mushy peas

Aldi croissants
Bourbon biscuits

Holland and Barrett fruit flapjacks
Linda McCartney sausages and chips

Marmite on toast

Kent black cherries

Marmite breadsticks
(If Marmite crackers count...)

Sunday roast at The George (hey! what about the Elvis Burger at the George??)
Anything at Birmingham’s curry mile
Rhubarb crumble with Swedish Glace
Paskin’s full breakfast

Jersey Royal potatoes swimming in butter

Evesham asparagus

Potato farls

Bubble and Squeak

Sticky toffee pudding

Irn Bru

Bacon buttie with tomato sauce
Marigold bouillon powder

Booja Booja truffles

Scones and jam
Bird’s custard
(I still have a huge container of it here at home!)
Anything at Dandelion and Burdock

White chocolate

A bought pizza with cheese in the UK

Hot cross buns

Staffordshire oatcakes

Bread and butter pudding

Summer pudding

Pickled onions

Potato from the Baked Potato Shop in Edinburgh
Weatherspoons curry

Irish stew with dumplings

Mashed carrot and swede
(mmm... somehow, roast root veggies taste better in the UK!)
Pease pudding

Christmas pudding

Blue Sheese


English muffins

Scotch broth

Walker’s prawn cocktail crisps (I miss these!)
Mildred’s mushroom and ale pie

Masala dosa

Realeat fishcakes

Worcestershire sauce
Mushroom ketchup

Pickled walnuts (I have a jar of these at home, but haven't opened them yet)

Anything at Vbites
Co-op donuts
(and brought some jars back- yum!)

Anything at Saf

Chip shop curry sauce and chips
Warehouse Café bangers and mash

Innocent Smoothie

Eccles cake
Semolina pudding with jam

Linda McCartney country pie
Scallop (potato fritter)
Elderflower cordial

Spotted dick

Victoria plum

Marigold braised tofu
Clive’s pie

Wagamama Yasai Chilli Men

(this is British???)
Spring cabbage
Holland and Barrett Porkless Pie

Henderson’s relish

Scottish raspberries



Fry’s Peppermint Cream


Roast parsnips

Booja Booja ice cream (could not afford this!)


Rice pudding

Beef and Tomato Pot Noodle
Sesame Snaps

37... not bad, eh? This just proves that I need to come back to the UK soon! Anyone wanna buy me tickets???


sour grapes

Just a little kitchen tip for those of you who want to get into Iranian cooking. As you know, sour is a huge component of the cuisine- we get our sour from many sources- lemons and limes, fresh and dried, pomegranate in various forms, and... sour grapes! If you go to an Iranian market, you can actually find sour grape powder sold in the spice aisle. However, you can capture that flavor yourself, as long as you have access to some grape vines! What you should do is pick some unripe grapes- if you taste them they should be edible, but seriously pucker-inducing- and then preserve them. You can dry them and grind them to make powder, or juice them and freeze the juice in small segments (maybe an ice cube tray?), or just freeze them whole and throw them into recipes where a little sour somethin-somethin is called for.

The response to my Grandma recipe was so positive (thank you!) that I'm working on another of her recipes to post soon. Stay tuned!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

pizza crust- yet another v. v. important debate

yet another DEBATE OF SUPREME IMPORTANCE!! this one is a debate that goes on in my very own house, in my very own marriage, on a regular basis: thin crust or deep-dish pizza?

chewy, doughy, deep-dish baked in a cast iron pan?

Or a crispy thin crust baked on a pizza stone?

A crust that is a meal in and of itself?

Or crust as amuse-bouche-style delivery system for toppings?

What say you, dear readers, WHAT SAY YOU?


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

what was I eating this time last year...?

Just a flashback post from the archives tonight... If you remember, Daiku and I were living in England last Fall, and by the end of October, we'd established a pretty good food routine and were trying to eat like the locals.

Breakfast might be some delicious scones with margarine and jam.

Dinner might be sampling a vegan entrée from Sainsburys supermarket, such as the steak above, with some mashed potatoes with greens, and some local Kent apples on the side.

I even started making proper puddings! The one above was made with some stewed and spiced sour cherries, topped with Bird's custard (made with soya milk), and some crumbled ginger biscuits on top. I was proud of myself!

And tea. Lots of tea. Always tea. Long live tea.


Monday, October 26, 2009

the great tofu scramble debate

It's that time again, ladies and gentlemen, when this blog brings you very controversial topics of great importance. Today's issue- that great vegan staple, tofu scramble. I've sang the praises of this dish before- how delicious, how versatile, how healthy, and how plain awesome it is. It's one of my all-time faves.


But then I became aware of a schism in the tofu scramble universe. It appears that SOME PEOPLE *cough*Portlanders*cough* cube their tofu instead of mash it. Am I insane, or is that just a stir-fry with tofu and not really a scramble? What say you, wise and lovely readers? WHAT SAY YOU???


Sunday, October 25, 2009

cappuccino cuppers win at life

If you've ever made cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, you know that they are all good. But most of you probably have a favorite from there. Or at least a top-3 list. Or... top-5? Well, the cappuccino cupcakes are definitely on my top-3 list from that book. If you like coffee you have to make these RIGHT NOW. They have an almost shocking pop of flavor, and such a moist and lovely texture. The recipe comes with an espresso filling that is really good, but these cuppers have so much flavor that you really don't even need a filling.

They're good with just s sprinkle of powdered sugar on top.

Or, you can go fancy-pants and make a little cream cheese icing...

... maybe a few cacao nibs on top?



Thursday, October 22, 2009

vegan cakelove

sometimes love can best be expressed in the form of... vegan cake! like when my cousin brought me this vegan cupcake- she found a store in the mall (in Northern Virginia) that sells vegan cupcakes and thought of me! awwww.

I also know how to return cakelove. My aunt's boss is very interested in healthy living and vegan eating, and the people at the office sometimes poke fun at him for that. Well, I decided to show them- I made him this Raspberry Blackout Cake with Ganache-y Frosting (from Vegan with a Vengeance). He loved it- and grudgingly shared it with the rest of the office. Somehow, they don't make SO much fun of vegan food any more... make this cake! share vegan cakelove!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

trying to decide what candy to give out on Halloween?

how about 2 oldie but goodie vegan options? Chick-O-Sticks (taste kind of like the inside of a Butterfinger Bar, but with a coconut twist) and Peanut Chews (caramel-y chocolate-y peanuts). There are also Mary Janes, old-fashioned peanut butter toffees. Or how about something newer? Did you know that Skittles are no longer made with gelatin? Yay for tasting the rainbow!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

grandma's recipe- fesenjan

For today's mofo, I'm going to write about my grandma and give you one of my favorite recipes of hers. This article was originally written for Herbivore magazine.

Give It Up For Grandma!

My grandmother’s name is Houra, and she is a wonderful human being and nurturer. In my whole life, she is the one person who has never raised her voice at me or spoken in anger. Even more importantly, she is the foundation of the vast majority of my memories about food and cooking. To this day, getting a whiff of fresh dill or cilantro conjures up the warm feeling of nestling my face in her apron and standing at her feet as she cooked.

Houra was born in northern Iran in the 1920’s. She recounts happy early childhood tales of playing with her siblings and cousins, but also the sadness of being taken out of school while still a young teenager. Grandma tells stories of wistfully watching other kids going off to school, and these stories have ensured that all of her children and grandchildren have placed great value on education. Grandma has also instilled a love of traveling in our entire family, setting an example by visiting far-away lands starting in her 50s and 60s. She has been to Saudi Arabia on pilgrimage, to Sweden, to Dubai, to England, to Romania, to the former Yugoslavia. She was with me when I visited Turkey for the first time as a young girl.

I became vegan over five years ago, and my grandma has always been the most supportive member of my family. Due to health concerns, she herself is not a big consumer of meat or dairy. She comes from a culinary background that places great emphasis on fresh, seasonal produce, and her table is always full of vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and herbs. It is only now, as I learn more and more about food that I see how rich her food world really is. For her, sun-dried tomatoes are not a gourmet ingredient on a high-priced restaurant menu, but what you make in late summer to make sure you have tomatoes in the winter. Fruit leathers are not a silly childrens snack, but a way to capture the bounty of whatever fruit you happen to have in abundance. Herbs are not merely decorations on a finished dish, but an integral flavor and nutritional component of that dish, meant to be savored rather than discarded. I credit grandma with the fact that I have such a taste for fruits and vegetables today, without which being a vegan would be pretty damn difficult!

For these reasons, eating vegan at grandma’s house has always been easy. Most of her recipes are easily veganized, and she takes great joy into observing me replace the eggs or meat in her dishes, just as I took great joy watching her cook for all the years of my life. Here, I have veganized fesenjan, a delicious, nutritious, and iconic Iranian khoresh, or stew. The recipe is very flexible, and you should approach it in terms of flavor instead of exact measurements. You will be surprised at the lip-smacking flavor that such a seemingly unexpected combination of ingredients yields. The rich taste of fesenjan and its deep brown color make it perfect for the fall and winter.



  • 2 cups fresh raw walnuts
  • 1 medium white onion, grated
  • ¼ cup pomegranate paste*
  • 3 TB tomato paste
  • 2 – 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ½ - 1 tsp cinnamon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup of your favorite vegan chicken (I used baked tofu, but seitan, tempeh, packaged faux chicken, or even legumes such as lima beans also work well)


  • Using a food processor, grind the walnuts until they form a paste with a smooth nut-butter consistency
  • Crumble the walnut paste, along with the grated onion, the pomegranate and tomato pastes, and spices into a stock pot over medium-high heat, and stir in enough water until smooth. You want a thin consistency, like tomato juice, this will thicken up substantially. Make sure to get rid of any lumps in the sauce.
  • Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. As the mixture thickens, the color will darken to a deep brown.
  • Add your baked tofu (or whatever chicken substitute you are using) at this point, and allow it to simmer for another 30 minutes. Towards the end, you can add 1 or 2 tablespoons of ice water to the mixture once or twice, to get the beautiful reddish walnut oil to rise to the top for presentation purposes. This step is totally optional.
  • Serve warm over rice. White basmati rice is traditional (click here for the recipe for Iranian-style steamed rice pilaf -scroll down), but I also love fesenjan with my favorite brown rice.
  • Enjoy!

Optional: eggplants also taste good in this dish. You can drop chopped eggplants, raw or cooked, into the stew for the last 30 minutes or so of cooking, in addition to or as a replacement for the chicken.

* Pomegranate paste is a thick, intensely sour paste that gives many Iranian dishes a distinctive flavor. You can find pomegranate paste at Iranian supermarkets, or hit up your closest Iranian friend! If you can’t, however, you can replace it in this recipe with pomegranate molasses or juice, changing the amount of water accordingly. The juice and the molasses are not as tangy as the paste, however, and you should probably add some lemon or lime juice to make up for this fact.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

some favorite simple treats, courtesy of daiku

these are some of my favorite things to eat, simple vegan foods that bring comfort and happiness. some of that happiness can be attributed to the fact that I associate them with my life with daiku- we've been together for a long time, and share so many food adventures and memories. without him, I would not be the unabashed fan I am of cumin, chipotle, or...

...pretzels with plenty of mustard and some beer to wash it all down with,

...delicious focaccia with tons and tons of fresh rosemary,

...beans and greens in all forms,

...german chocolate cake (here in mini-birthday-cupcake form).

what are some of your favorite foods that you sampled thanks to the influence of others?


Saturday, October 17, 2009

apples apples apples!

Daiku and I have guests over at our house quite often. And Autumn is a very fun time to have guests, because we live smack dab in the middle of apple country! So on a nice Sunday recently, we took our friend and guest Julian out to pick some apples.

She had fun!

We had fun!

and, for under $15, we came home with enough apples to make into 2 jars of apple butter, 2 full-sized and 4 hand-sized pies, and juice, with enough left over for some serious snacking.

What are some other mofo-ers doing with apples this month? Head over to my apple round-up over on VeganMoFo Headquarters for a sampling.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

blog action day: climate change

decided to keep it short and sweet this year- even though the U of C study is a few years old, it bears repeating:

Researchers at the University of Chicago have calculated the relative carbon intensity of a standard vegan diet in comparison to a US-style carnivorous diet, all the way through from production to processing to distribution to cooking and consumption. An average burger man (that is, not the outsize variety) emits the equivalent of 1.5 tonnes more CO2 every year than the standard vegan. By comparison, were you to trade in your conventional gas-guzzler for a state of the art Prius hybrid, your CO2 savings would amount to little more than one tonne per year.

quote taken from this Guardian article, 2006

(also, don't let people side-track you by talking about large-scale production of crops such as soy and corn that feed vegans- those are the same crops, but on a much larger scale, that meat animals are fed as well! Whether you are vegan or not, you are eating soybeans. It's up to you how.)