Saturday, 13 October 2012

Food for Thought: 15 Quotations on Vegetarianism

Beautiful fresh green veg is real food...

Sometimes I remember that I myself have eaten meat (albeit reluctantly) as a child and I think how lucky our kids are that they haven't had to go through this; but I worry they take it for granted, having known nothing else: never having had to experience the utter revulsion of finding a vein in a chicken breast or scales in a fish finger, is their rejection of meat as complete as mine? They have all always expressed strongly that they would not want to eat meat or eggs and their diets are now their own choice... but their more favourable situation has not forced them to think and feel their way through the moral and spiritual implications of meat- eating with quite the urgency and vehemence that I had to. Here are a few quotes from famous vegetarians that I hope my kids will read and remember:

If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.  ~ Sir Paul McCartney

Nothing more strongly arouses our disgust than cannibalism, yet we make the same impression on Buddhists and vegetarians, for we feed on babies, though not our own.  ~Robert Louis Stevenson

The human body has no more need for cows' milk than it does for dogs' milk, horses' milk, or giraffes' milk.  ~Michael Klaper

Recognize meat for what it really is:  the antibiotic- and pesticide-laden corpse of a tortured animal.  ~Ingrid Newkirk

Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds theirs.  We live by the death of others:  we are burial places!  I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look on the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men.  ~Leonardo da Vinci

While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this earth?  ~George Bernard Shaw

I think if you want to eat more meat you should kill it yourself and eat it raw so that you are not blinded by the hypocrisy of having it processed for you.  ~Margi Clark

We manage to swallow flesh only because we do not think of the cruel and sinful thing that we do.  Cruelty... is a fundamental sin, and admits of no arguments or nice distinctions.  If only we do not allow our heart to grow callous, it protests against cruelty, is always clearly heard; and yet we go on perpetrating cruelties easily, merrily, all of us - in fact, anyone who does not join in is dubbed a crank.  ~Rabindranath Tagore

To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being.  I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body.  ~Mahatma Gandhi

Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.  ~Albert Einstein

Vegetarianism is a link to perfection and peace. ~River Phoenix 

"Perhaps a man hitched to the cart of a Martian or roasted on the spit by inhabitants of the Milky Way will recall the veal cutlet he used to slice on his dinner plate and apologize (belatedly) to the cow."~ Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

"Nobody can come up with a good argument for eating animals — nobody can. People as some kind of a joke say, well, 'It's tasty', but it's only tasty once you garnish it and you put salt and pepper, and you cook it, and you have to do 300 things to it to disguise its true taste. If you put garnishes on a chair or fabric, it would probably taste quite nice." ~Morrissey

" [When asked what he would eat if he was in a desert with no food in sight except a cow ] I'd find out what the cow was eating and join it." ~Benjamin Zephaniah

 "Those who kill animals and give them unnecessary pain-as people do in slaughterhouses-will be killed in a similar way in the next life and in many lives to come...In the Judeo-Christian scriptures, it is stated clearly 'Thou shalt not kill.' Nonetheless, giving all kinds of excuses, even the heads of religion indulge in killing animals and, at the same time, try to pass as saintly persons. This mockery and hypocrisy in human society brings about unlimited calamities such as great war, where masses of people go out onto the battlefields and kill each other. Presently they have discovered the nuclear bomb, which is simply waiting to be used for wholesale destruction." Such are the effects of karma. ~AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja ("Srila Prabhupada"), commentary on Bhagavad Gita

If you would like to read some compelling arguments in favour of vegetarianism, click here.


Thursday, 11 October 2012

How-to 5: Make Quick and Easy Tofu

Baked tofu with brown rice and roasted veg... yum!

This month I thought I'd give some step-by-step instructions for making tofu the quick and easy way- it's really not that much different from making paneer. If you are vegetarian and especially vegan, then making your own high protein foods like seitan or tofu works out much cheaper than buying them, and needn't be too time-consuming if you plan meals in advance. (Seitan for a meal for 4-5 people costs just the price of a 1.5kg bag of white flour- 50p to about £1- plus a bit more for flavourimgs, and this quick tofu is less than half the price of shop-bought tofu.) When you make stuff like this yourself, it's truly fresh (in this case as fresh as the soya milk was, though) and you know exactly what's gone into it, too. It also makes a welcome change from beans!
 I used to work making tofu from scratch for a small business down in Glastonbury, using soya beans, grinding them, making soya milk and then curdling it to make the tofu. This is long-winded, but results in okara as well as tofu at the end. (Okara is the solid stuff which is left when you strain the ground beans to get the soya milk. It's fibre-rich and 24% protein, so is a great addition to baked goods, stews or veggieburgers. If you can't use it immediately, it freezes well.) The method for making tofu I'm showing you here starts with soya milk rather than the whole beans, so there is no okara produced- however, it doesn't take so long to make. For some tofu recipes from this blog, look here, here, here, here and here.

For approx 300g of firm tofu you will need:
2 litres unsweetened soya milk
lemon juice (bottled, not fresh)
muslin/fine cloth or a fine-meshed seive for straining
a plastic container with holes punched in the bottom and a lid with the rim cut off so it fits inside the tub  (a food tub is good) ,and a heavy weight (I used half a -clean!-brick)

Here are the step-by-step instructions: 

1: You need 2 litres of unsweetened soya milk; the brand shown here is a budget one- better to get organic; better still to make your own organic soya milk (but then that wouldn't be quick). Also have ready your bottled lemon juice...

2: Prepare a tofu mould from a food-grade plastic container: punch holes in the bottom and sides and trim the lid so that it lies flat on top of the contents. (This will prevent the tofu from coming into contact with the weight when you press it.)

3: Pour the soya milk into a deep, thick-bottomed pan and bring to the boil, stirring from time to time to prevent sticking.

4: When the soya milk is bubbling and rises up the pan, turn the heat off and stir in the lemon juice.

5: Keep the soya milk moving, and after a minute or two it will curdle, like this. Mine seems to make lots of small curds.

6: Place the mould in a tray, ideally raised on a cooling rack (not shown here, as my photo didn't come out that well!) and ladle the curds into it using a slotted spoon. I completely bypassed the muslin bag stage that you do when making paneer, and it worked just fine...)

7: Put the lid on and place a heavy weight on top. I find a scrubbed half brick will do just fine. The longer you leave it, the firmer the tofu will become. To get firm tofu like the stuff in the shops, I pressed my curds for just under an hour. If you want to make tofu mayo or dessert, you may not need to press the tofu at all, in which case you would need to hang it awhile in a muslin cloth to drain.

8: ..Hey Presto! A 300g block of firm tofu, ready to stir-fry, bake, freeze etc. It's not perfectly smooth, but holds together just fine. If you don't want to use it immediately or to freeze it, transfer it to a lidded container and cover with water. Change the water daily and it will keep for a few days.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Kimchi- Korean pickle

This recipe makes a yummy pot of kimchi!

I have been wanting to make kimchi for some time now, but never got round to it... now Korea is very much in the media because of "Gangnam Style" (if you haven't heard yet, it's the K-pop/ rap hit that has become so famous worldwide that the video is currently the most viewed ever on Youtube)  and so I remembered kimchi. I found many recipes on the internet, most of which contain fish sauce, so my following vegan version may not be 100% authentic, but it's certainly tasty! 
For those of you who have never tried it, kimchi is a deliciously spicy, salty and sweet pickle of brined cabbage/ Chinese leaves to which a paste of ginger, garlic, Korean chilli flakes and fish or soy sauce is then added. My version is made with white cabbage (only because I couldn't get hold of Chinese leaves) and I replaced the Korean chilli flakes with chilli powder and paprika, since they are milder than South American chilli. I substituted hing for the garlic and made a mixture of miso and soy sauce instead of using fish- who says you can't have on-trend food on a pure veg yoga diet ? All you need is a little adaptation...
I made a small amount this time, but it was so yummy I think I'll make more soon!

200g white cabbage/ chinese leaves, cut into 2cm (or slightly larger squares)
1 rounded tab seasalt dissolved in 500ml (2 cups) water
1/3 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp paprika
2 tsps grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp compound hing
1 heaped tsp miso
1 tab soy sauce
1/2 grated apple/ Asian pear/ a grated small pear

  • Brine the cabbage by putting it into the salted water and weighing it down as for sauerkraut. Refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours; I was impatient, but the longer it brines the more the cabbage will absorb the other flavours when you add them.
  • Make a paste from all the other ingredients except the pear. Set aside.
  • When the cabbage has brined, drain off the salted water and stir in the paste.
  • Next grate the pear or apple in for some natural sweetness, and stir in.
  • Keep refrigerated in an airtight glass jar or tupperware container. Do not fill right up, as the kimchi will expand as it ferments. I don't know how long it keeps for as I've only just made it, but I'd guess since it's sealed up and in the fridge it will last a week or two.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Date Syrup Ginger Parkin- vegan, natural sugar

Parkin is a quintessentially British treat

Parkin is quintessentially British fare from the North of England, particularly the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire. It is traditionally served at November 5th ("Bonfire Night") celebrations so I'm posting this in good time for your party planning. (Look here for another Bonfire Night snack and some reminiscences from the 70s.) The key ingredients  of parkin are oats, black treacle and ground ginger and there are a million versions of it on the web as everyone's Aunty or Grandma seems to have their own favourite recipe.... my twist is not only to omit the eggs, but to replace the treacle with natural date syrup. (Although as cane sugars go, treacle/ molasses/ gour would all be reasonably healthy options.) As ginger is my current Ingredient of the Month, I made sure I included plenty! Oh, and I suppose I should mention that parkin is supposed to be kept in an airtight container for a week before eating ;) 

This recipe makes about the same amount as my other cakes; roughly 12 portions
300g wholemeal flour
100g porridge oats/ medium oatmeal
4 heaped tsps ground ginger
5 tsps baking powder
400ml rice milk (or other plant-based "milk")
200ml date syrup, plus more for glazing
150ml peanut or ricebran oil

  • If you are using porridge oats, blitz them in your food processor or blender for a few seconds to break them down somewhat.
  • Mix the dry ingredients together.
  • Measure out the wet ingredients (this includes the date syrup) in a separate container and whisk together (by hand is fine; it's just so the syrup doesn't get left behind in the bottom of the bowl).
  • Beat the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients for a couple of minutes. If you are used to baking cakes from my blog you will notice that this batter is slightly wetter than usual: don't worry...
  • ...Just pile it into a couple of prepared cake pans/ loaf tins/ silicone moulds. Note:  Make sure the batter is not to deep- ideally, just about 3cm or a bit less, to ensure your parkin cooks through properly. Use 2  shallow pans if you have to, rather than one deep one.
  • Bake for about 20m mins or until it passes the skewer test. Before it's cooled, brush the top generously with some more date syrup to give it a little stickiness and do not attempt to cut until cool or it will crumble. 
PS: If you have tried and liked this, you might want to try my Sticky Prune Cake!