Category Archives: food

Day 5: Enough’s enough

Getting out of my bed is hard when there is no coffee waiting. Breakfast is almost impossible if you’ve forgotten to soak your oats overnight. Lunchtime, when your kids have been fighting all morning, and there’s no food in the house except questionable Quorn which has eggs in it anyway, is just too much.

I scrambled some eggs. In butter. Then I put cheese on top.

I managed four and a half days of being vegan. My children are the reason I failed so early. My greed is the reason I didn’t get back onto that rickety wagon.

Tonight I ordered a plain cheese pizza. It was f***ing delicious.

Tomorrow’s dinner is this:

Oh the relief!

I felt bad for as long as it took to leave my lovely Mags of The Newbie Vegan a voicemail apologising – then I felt set free. Coffee! Cheese! A big ass steak! Nothing was beyond me now!

In all seriousness, I’ve actually learned a lot this week.

1 I eat too much crap for snacks when I genuinely love cucumber, carrot and celery sticks

2 Tofu is delicious stir-fried and much cheaper than meat (£2.50 per packet)

3 I drink too much coffee

4 I don’t drink enough water

5 I need to be more organised when it comes to food generally

6 As with most things in my life, being a working mum really constrains me. When mums say “I don’t have time”, they genuinely mean it. Neither can I pop to the supermarket to buy specialist ingredients because that involves taking two small rutting stags and shoehorning them into a trolley so they don’t run off while I search the shelves.

7 I need to be extra careful about where my food comes from. I already order my milk direct from a farm – it gets left on my doorstep at 5am – and I try to always buy Scottish meat.

8 I need to eat more fish and make less stuff with mince

So although I technically failed the Vegan Challenge (let’s just see how many of my goals I achieved here. Oh. One) I still think it was worthwhile.

 

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Filed under Edinburgh, food, Going Vegan, health

Day 4: God this is tough

Another morning coffee avoided. Another morning of weird breakfast because I forgot about my overnight oats. Dragging a reluctant six year old around Tesco trying to work out which aisle the bloody tins of chickpeas live in was a low point. But I’m hanging on in there.

I think, given my conversation with the farmer yesterday, the only reason I’m continuing with this challenge is for re-education purposes. I’ve gotten into bad habits and I want to reset. I’m enjoying eating lots of fruit and veg, particularly cucumber and carrot sticks, I’m feeling the benefit of not drinking coffee four times a day and I’m relishing the challenge of creating tasty evening meals using new ingredients. I mean, I had never bought tofu before this week.

Today I also bought quorn. I figured if I enjoyed my stir fry that much, I should just repeat that meal with other meat substitutes. These are the habits which are likely to stick. I cannot wait to use milk again and I am definitely going to bake myself a camembert when this challenge is over. Mmmmmmmm camembert…

Oh. I’ve just checked the label and Quorn contains egg whites. Crap.

Well, dinner was delicious. More stir fried tofu, this time with spring onions, beansprouts, carrots and courgettes.

tofu stirfry

Today’s menu

Breakfast: Tin of mandarins, fresh orange juice

Snack: Cucumber and carrot sticks, red pepper humous, water

Lunch: Vegetable soup, a banana, water

Snack: I didn’t have time for a snack today

Dinner: Stir fried tofu, spring onion, courgette, carrot, beansprouts, rice, Prosecco (don’t worry, I checked, no animal products were used)

 

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Filed under Edinburgh, food, Going Vegan, health, Uncategorized

Vegan Challenge Day 3: The Farmer Speaks

I was skunnered this morning when Rod handed me a coffee, forgetting I was off the milk. I’d forgotten to soak my oats and was running around trying to get kids ready so ended up comforting myself with a trip to the local inconvenience store.

Yep, breakfast was two morning rolls dipped in olive oil and balsamic. Nutritious? I think not. I was racing to finish writing a press release before my nail appointment, so my snack was 20 Pringles. Not a good morning.

My fortnightly nail appointment is always a highlight. I travel halfway across Edinburgh to see this woman because she is excellent. She is also a character – obsessed with 195os style, owner of a gorgeous bulldog called Rose who smiles at me from her dog basket and, I found out today, she used to be the head bouncer at a notorious Glasgow nightclub called Archaos. She also grew up on a farm and spent five years at agricultural college, so I should have known better than to mention my vegan challenge.

Her rant lasted through the soak off and the first two coats of the new colour, but she made some excellent, and heartfelt points. The main one was: “The thought that farmers, whose livelihood depends on the animals they look after, don’t care and don’t look after their cows and pigs, is actually offensive. And I don’t use that term vey often cos people get too offended these days.”

She explained how strict the regulations are in the UK. There are actually laws about how much daylight, space and stimulation animals must have as a bare minimum. The picture of the sow separated from her piglets in a small pen that does the rounds on Facebook got her particularly riled up.

“Do you know how much a sow weighs? They’re twice the size of a coffee table and have about 20 piglets, if she rolls over she’s going to squash them and kill them. She goes in the farrowing pen for the piglets’ safety. They feed, they’re observed to make sure everyone gets enough, then the sow gets her own pen so she can move about safely – and can still snuffle her children through the barrier.”

Organic farming was another passionate subject for her – she derided the practice of depriving a cow who cuts itself on a fence from receiving antibiotics because lavender cream allows the farmer to claim organic status – meanwhile the cow suffers. She also pointed out the joy of UK farmers at leaving the EU because the regulations are ridiculously complex and actually prevent them from farming properly.

I won’t go on. She made some very interesting, and informed, points and given that I was still in mourning over my morning coffee, really struck a chord.

I was all set to give up on this challenge, but tofu turned my head. It’s delicious! Stir fried in soy sauce with a tonne of veg and some gluten free noodles? YUM.

I shall fight another day. Day 3 complete. And aren’t my nails gorgeous?

Today’s menu

Breakfast: Two morning rolls dipped in olive oil and Balsamic vinegar; pint of cucumber water

Snack: Pringles

Lunch: Vegetable soup, Bourneville chocolate bar, pint of cucumber water

Snack: Raisins

Dinner: Stir fried tofu with veg and rice noodles; glass of red wine

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Super super supermarkets

Picture yourself in the pasta aisle of Sainsbury’s on a Saturday afternoon.

It’s noisy and busy. You are pushing a trolley. In that trolley is an effervescent two year old, to whom some well-meaning member of staff has given a balloon on a stick.

You are being repeatedly bashed in the face and you’re trying to navigate round browsers, chatters and elderly shoppers who prefer to take their time. Your shoulders are burning from the effort of steering a top heavy trolley with four independent wheels. Your mind is whirring with a list you didn’t have time to write down. You’re making a paella and need such awkward ingredients as tomato paste, squid rings and saffron. Three different shop assistants aren’t even sure what saffron is and you feel like a fool informing them it’s the stamens of crocuses. It has also occurred to you that, since you have blindly run this gauntlet, you may as well stock up on the things you need for the home. But your arms are now a bit numb and your hair is so static it’s sticking to your eyelids. A man steps forward, not to show you where the goddamn saffron is, but to ask you if you’ve considered Sainsbury’s bank. You stare at him, trying to decide if you’re actually about to lose it, but remain British and politely tell him you don’t generally shop here.

The balloon escapes from its stick. There is a wail and a helpful dad trots up with the errant balloon. Your toddler grins, delighted with this new game. You now have to steer the trolley with two dead arms, partial blindness and precarious patience while playing a kind of slow motion keepy-uppy. You search for the toiletries aisle and find it round the corner, next to the clothing and up an imperceptible hill. You let go of the trolley for a second to grab the shampoo and it rolls into a woman, who not only gets a bruised ankle but a head bashed with a balloon. She is clearly childless. She doesn’t share your slightly hysterical giggling. You decide its probably best to just check out and accidentally unload your trolley on the basket-only belt. The assistant opens her mouth to protest, notes the grimace, frizz and cackling child, and closes it again. You prepare to gasp with relief as you get close to the exit – only to discover the skies have opened and your jacket is in the car.

But your paella is fucking good.

paella

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Testing, testing, count to 3

I was just telling my mum, when she visited last week, that I thought we were getting over the Terrible Twos and making real progress…

Then yesterday happened.

super-strength or just grim determination?

super-strength or just grim determination?

I think a devil must have temporarily possessed the wee man , because he has never behaved so badly for such a sustained period as he did on Thursday 28 November. He pulled the curtain off the wall for God’s sake! All I had done was put him down for a nap, at the usual time, after a busy, energetic morning. He should have been tired. Instead, he cried angry tears for half an hour, so I went in thinking he’d maybe thrown his favourite toy out. Instead I was confronted with a tear-stained toddler, his trousers round his ankles and the curtain hanging by a thread.

I had really needed him to nap. We’d spent the morning at the beach and play park – a treat I had thought. But no, he had moaned and cried and ripped off his gloves and hat and refused to walk beside me. He hadn’t even wanted to pick up shells and throw them in the waves for long. In fact, he was only happy when I gave him crisps.

all smiles now...

all smiles now…

So after the non-nap I decided there was no point taking him to the park (he’d be cold) or soft play (he’d misbehave) and bundled him into the car to go to the shopping centre. At least there he’d be warm and strapped into a buggy. He sat beautifully, I got lots of Christmas shopping done and I thought we were over it.

I made him cottage pie for dinner and we sat at the table. He pushed it away. He wanted juice. He tried a mouthful. He spat it out. He wanted more juice. He threw a carrot on the floor. He screamed for juice. He threw his fork on the floor. I tried the aeroplane trick – he swiped the spoon and sent it flying. I refused to refill the juice. He screamed. I tried to cajole him. He pressed his mouth tight shut. I turned away to get the juice. He picked up the bowl and hurled it against the wall. It smashed. Cottage pie splattered. I lost it.

“THAT WAS VERY NAUGHTY” I yelled. He burst into noisy tears. I lifted him up and placed him very gently (so as to prove to myself I was still in control, when I didn’t feel like it) on the naughty spot and told him through clenched teeth why he was there. I then walked to the sink and stood taking deep breaths and counting to ten, while he screamed blue murder. For the next fifteen minutes I avoided all eye contact and just replaced him, time and again, on the naughty spot. I cleaned up the mess and loaded the dishwasher. I wiped down the counter and tidied. Eventually, in our own ways, we calmed down, he sat for the two minutes and I went over to him.

“Mummy put you here because… look at mummy” He did. “Mummy put you here because you threw your plate at the wall. That was very naughty. You don’t throw your dinner. You eat nicely at the table. Do you understand?” He nodded. “Now say sorry”

He leaped into my arms, squeezing me tight and wiping snot all over my shoulder. I hugged him back and kissed his head.

Then I put the cartoons on and opened a bottle of wine.

 

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Muffies – an easy to ignore recipe

IMG_4680My sister and I were moaning that we had no cakes or biscuits to munch after dinner last night.

“Let’s make some!” she said. So we did. Kind of. Here’s the recipe for Muffies:

You will need:

• to unpack a smoothie machine from the boxes as the food processor will be too far down

• An incomplete set of mixing spoons – mls are the same as grams after all

• to set the oven at 160 then ignore all further instructions

Ingredients: 

150ml of self raising flour

some cocoa powder

a cup of unsalted butter (but Lurpak will do)

half a cup Muscovado sugar (brown sugar will do)

Chocolate buttons (chopped Cadbury’s fingers will do)

One egg (or two)

Porridge oats (not really, but we had oatsosimple apple and cinnamon ones which fell in)

Instructions:

Fling everything in the smoothie maker. Don’t worry if some of the butter splatters on the wall, you’re only renting the house, not selling it.

Turn smoothie maker on long enough to wake a child, but not long enough to mix any ingredients

Insert plastic mixing rod (but not while blades are spinning)

Empty unmixed contents into washed salad bowl

Use a whisk

“Double” all ingredients. Ish

Add more flour to poo-like mixture

Add more flour

Add Nutella. Why not

Add another egg

Add more flour

Abandon whisk

Get in amongst it with your fingers

Freak out because mixture is under your nails

Add more flour

Decide it’s fine, they’ll be muffins, not cookies. Muffies.

Unearth muffin tin

[Here you may like to hold some water in your mouth and play innunendo bingo]

Spoon mixture into tin but don’t let it touch the sides, it will expand.

You’ll get slimy fingers but it will be worth it.

Add a dollop of Nutella to centre of each muffie then add a lid

Prick the muffies

Cook for about 20 mins. Or so.

biscuit making

Taste.

Vom

Add nutella (too much flour)

Eat with a cup of tea

Decide they’re delicious and mourn the fact the process can never truly be repeated.

dough

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Fed up with feeding

This is a rare sight these days:

 

Mealtimes have become a real battle lately and I’m running out of tricks and patience.

It all started on holiday – he started to take exception to the spoon, so we just made every meal finger food. Then this happened:

Gag

He couldn’t have said “What the hell is this?” any clearer, really. It coincided with a squealing phase, which was no doubt encouraged by the wonderful accoustics in a room that was tiled and vaulted, so we just put it down to General Holiday Excitement.

When we came home he had an upset tummy for a few days, so that was the new excuse. Now he has a cold, so it could be down to that… But JEEZ I wish the kid would just EAT! I’ve tried everything from distraction with TV programmes and toys, to offering grown-up food with a fork, to dancing around and singing, to giving him tiny little sandwiches, to just ignoring him completely. The fact remains that if I want to force him to eat a whole meal it will take me an hour and 15 minutes, Waybuloo on loop, a box of toys and an energetic dance routine. I just can’t be doing that in public. But if I don’t, this happens:

 

Yesterday Rod was working late in Aberdeen so my dear friend Mags pitched in. She’s a classically trained actress who’s just finished a highly successful run in the National Theatre in London’s West End. Needless to say, Finlay ate his entire meal in record time, so fascinated was he by the all-singing, all-dancing cabaret she improvised. If only I’d had the foresight to tape it.

As her booking fee and travel costs from the Big Smoke are a little beyond my daily budget, could anyone (and I mean ANYONE) make any suggestions as to how to persuade my little angel to eat his tea? Cos right now he is seriously unimpressed.

 

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