Category Archives: food

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Edinburgh, food, Going Vegan, health

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.


1 Comment

Filed under food

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.



Filed under Aberdeen, food, home

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


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)


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



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.


Leave a comment

Filed under food, home

Protected: Fed up with feeding

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Enter your password to view comments.

Filed under food

Working Mum’s Guilt

I have a confession to make. I don’t…really…cook for the wee man. I mean, I make him scrambled eggs and spaghetti hoops on toast and fish fingers and stuff, but I don’t cook meals from scratch. At all. Some of my mummy friends put me to shame with tales of Sundays spent cooking up a storm and portioning into freezer bags ready for the week. I don’t do that. I used to cook and puree sweet potato and carrot and stuff, but when it got to the proper meals stage I just… stopped. I didn’t have time. I don’t have time. I’m running a business and raising a child and hoping my husband gets home from work before 7pm and doesn’t have too many nights away this week – so really Ella’s Kitchen pouches and Hipp Organic jars have been my saviour.

Not any more.

Last night, while ordering the online shop, I pulled out the Annabel Karmel book (the one I hid cos it was making me feel inadequate) and diligently added all the ingredients to my list. I even learned a new word: Passata. Yes I know you’ve probably heard of it. My smart-arse sister scoffed and informed me mum has two jars in the cupboard at all times. Well, I’ve made it almost to my 30th birthday without knowing what it was. Now I’m thinking, hmmm, I should have two jars in the cupboard at all times.

My husband is on jury service this week (a huge inconvenience for him but a boon for me, as he’s home at 5pm) so I took advantage of the unexpected childcare to do some chopping. It looked kind of small there on the board, so I decided to double up all the ingredients. If I was going to portion and freeze I might as well make a whole load. Of course I then forgot I was doubling up and panicked when I found half a sweet potato hiding behind the coffee machine. But I figured, hell, it’s getting pureed at the end anyway, I’ll just fling it in. I even washed lentils, something else I’ve never done as I’ve always been scared off by their after-effects.

Thirty minutes later, with Rod sniffing appreciatively and asking when dinner would be ready (eh, in like an hour) I lifted the lid and saw orange. Why is all baby food orange? It’s a bugger to get off their faces and out of their clothes. A wee bit was stuck to the bottom  – in my head I used the puree excuse again – grated in twice as much cheese and blended. I tasted some of the burnt bits and they were gooooood! I think the wee man’s going to enjoy his lunch and dinner for the next week.

Voila! Lentil & vegetable puree

(Wait – what? He can’t have the same thing for every meal? I need to go and cook some more? Hand me that butternut squash!)

1 Comment

Filed under food, health