Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: do me a flavour (Page 1 of 3)

Vegan Musings

Yesterday my boet was in town and we went out for lunch. I chose Massimo’s in Hout Bay because I have never been and I know that they have an omni and special vegan menu. I had a most delicious vegan pizza (my only mistake was adding vegan cheese to it; horrible, unmelty coconut oil flavoured lumps) and everyone’s food was good. They even had a selection of vegan wines to choose from. I like that. It was all expensive. Eating out is expensive which is why I don’t do it that often.

It is so important for me that being a vegan isn’t about having to spend more money on food. Eating out is an absolute treat. Buying ingredients is not about buying expensive meat or dairy substitutes. In fact the only thing I don’t resent spending money on is cashew nuts, after discovering how they grow when I was in India.

Although I adore the brilliant sharing of information, recipes and advice on social media, the curse of belonging to Facebum vegan groups is that they can be both judgemental and snobby. This is a problem when vegans are trying to convince the average Joe that being a vegan is both accessible and affordable.

So when I am Facebum invited to a pop-up dining experience at R450 a head, or I read about a vegan high tea that costs the same as my weekly veggie purchase, I get a little antsy. When I read that soy milk is out and almond milk, at double the price is in, I do have a bit of a knee jerk response that omnis who might want to transition would find that off putting.

Big Friendly and I popped into De Waal Park on Saturday. I dragged him because I saw on Facebum that there was a vegan bake sale on and I wanted to support it. I want to support as many vegan initiatives as I can so that they continue to happen. I didn’t tell him that the teeniest crunchie and minute lemon poppyseed square cost R40. The poppyseed cake was ok. Big Friendly didn’t even remember to eat the crunchie I bought for him. It was too small to notice on the kitchen table.

And I am left feeling a little grumbly. This is what I think. Animal based protein is expensive. If a restaurant needs to ‘veganise’ a recipe they are leaving out the most expensive part of it. Vegan dishes cost less to make than omni ones. Soy milk costs only a teeny bit more than cow’s milk. Anything with cheese in should be more expensive, not less expensive than the non cheese version.

We vegans should be able to convince people that veganism is not a pastime for the well-heeled. But we need to demand that it is more affordable.

 

Vegan Lasagna Supreme

I spent the day cooking – a rare occurrence, but very successful. I made vegan kneidlach (matzo balls) in non-chicken soup, and then I made my first ever and definitely the best vegan lasagna. I scoured vegan lasagna recipes online and loved parts of them, but not the whole ones, and so I took the bits I liked from the recipes, adapted them, and combined them, and it was a total success.

I am going to try and write up the whole thing, and all the parts.

The parts

Italian tomato sauce, made from scratch, mushroom and spinach filling, cashew ‘cheese’, bechamel, lasagna sheets

  1. Tomato sauce

Ingredients – half onion chopped, clove of garlic, 1 fresh chilli, olive oil, dried thyme, sweet basil, oregano, 1 tin tomato puree, a small tub of tomato paste, water, a handful of fresh basil, balsamic vinegar, salt, black pepper

Fry the onion and garlic in a splash of olive oil, adding the dried herbs and chilli. Then add the tomato paste and stir before adding the tin of tomato puree (you can use a tin of whole tomatoes too), balsamic vinegar, half a tin of water, salt, pepper to taste. Cook on a medium heat until the sauce thickens slightly and bubbles. Then add chopped fresh basil and mix in.

2.  Mushroom and spinach filling

Ingredients – half a punnet of button mushrooms, a bunch (or packet) of spinach – washed, de-stemmed and shredded, half an onion, Italian dried herbs, clove of garlic, salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Fry the onion, garlic and herbs. Add the finely chopped mushrooms, and when golden, add the spinach, salt, pepper and lemon juice.

3. Cashew cheese

Ingredients  – 1 cup pre-soaked cashews, clove of garlic mashed, 3 tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, 6 tbsp water and 3 tbsp nutritional yeast.

Blitz everything in a food processor until smooth.

4. Bechamel

Ingredients – 1.5 cups soya milk, 2 tbsp flour, 3 tbsp olive oil, salt pepper

Heat the olive oil and add the flour, whisking fast until smooth. Add the milk slowly, whisking all the time, over a medium heat. Stir until sauce thickens, adding salt and pepper to taste. When sauce is thick take it off the heat.

Build the lasagna by putting dry lasagna sheets down first, then layering mushroom and spinach, tomato sauce, bechamel and blobs of cashew cheese. Do this three times in this order, ending up with a béchamel and cheese top.

Bang into a preheated (180°) oven. I used a casserole dish with a lid, and I baked it for 40 minutes.

I have made myself a bit sick. I have eaten half that dish. So good. So amazingly good.

 

 

Vegan French Toast

  • a recipe without pictures because I ate too fast

I love vegan french toast much more than I ever loved egg french toast because I never liked the egginess of french toast. With vegan french toast you can get it 100% right and it is delicious.

Ingredients

2 slices of thick white bread

2 tbs chickpea flour

1/2 cup non dairy milk (I used soy milk because it’s what I had)

Turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, salt (as much or as little as you like)

mild oil for cooking

maple syrup

sliced banana

Whisk the flour, milk, spices in a shallow bowl. Soak bread in mix while oil is heating in the pan. Fry until golden. Cover with maple syrup and banana. Try to savour each bite. Mine was gone in a second.

Jewish Tart

tartI have known Big Friendly for almost 13 years now, and over those 13 years he has told me rapturously, in childhood fantasy memory, about his most favourite dessert, a thing called Jewish Tart. His ouma and his mom made it for him on very special occasions and it was his best ever thing. I always pulled a face when he spoke about it, because I am Jewish and I have never heard of or seen a Jewish Tart before. I thought that maybe his strange and wonderful family had given some thing this name, and they were the only ones. Like my father calling stupid, stingy people Peruvians. “Don’t be such a Peruvian!”

A month ago Big Friendly came home flushed and excited. It was a real thing! His aunt had posted the Huisgenoot recipe for Jode Tert on facebum.

Today we tried to make it. It is layers of round biscuit separated by a homemade custard. The biscuits are done and the custard (please may it still firm up) is cooling before we assemble it.

Jewish Tart; this bizarre South African thing made by Afrikaners, and now by me, and stirred by Big Friendly. This is the recipe I followed.

 

The Funny Side

I was Facebum chatting to a friend overseas about the Dukan diet (USA has its unique challenges when trying to go on a sugar free diet; even the plain yogurt and fat free cottage cheese has sugar in it) and the conversation reminded me of how many funny things happen when you are dieting. It really isn’t all hard work and gloom.

One of the funniest things I did, more than once, was to peel batter off fish. I was out, or away, and had to eat the lesser of all evils. Fried fish it was. And I peeled it. Was it the ideal thing to eat? No. Was it a whole lot better than eating the batter? Oh yes.

I picked fruit out of salad. Actually, in general I don’t love fruit in salad, but especially on the Dukan, where in the first two phases there is no fruit whatsoever (because of the sugar) I picked damn (fashionable) pomegranate pips, orange segments, raisins (sies), apple and even nuts (which are also a no-no on the diet) out of salads.

I hauled sugar free gum, sugar free, fat free yogurt and even oat bran out of my bag. I carried a teaspoon around so I could eat it on the go.

I wore pants that were totally huge for me with belts, before finally agreeing that they were miles too big. I bought new jeans too soon, and lost more weight. I got rid of the big belts before I got rid of the big pants.

I saw the local shops as the drug store. I cannot believe how much terrible stuff is on sale there, just in the aisle that we wait in, to pay. It really is evil. I was on guard.

I became a preacher. I could see people glaze over after paragraph 2 of what I had done, what I was doing, and how. Sometimes I preached to those in need. I have converted more than 3 friends and the results speak for themselves. This makes me, and them, very happy.

Best Snack ever

Gero vanilla flavoured fat free yogurt, 1 tsp cocoa powder, 2 tbs oat bran (daily allowance)

Thing that saved my life

Tuna biltong. Pure protein snack.

Worst snack ever (although I tried twice!)

Vegetarian, fat free, artificially sweetened jelly. Tastes like artificially sweetened nothing.

Important

Some of my friends have always had an excellent relationship with their bodies. They know when they are bloated, or one or two kilos over what is comfortable for them, and then they quietly sort it out by watching what they eat for a week or two. They are in balance. It is a good combination of pride in their bodies and how they look, health, and reality. I have never really been one of those people. Don’t get me wrong, I like looking and feeling good, but I don’t like spending time or energy on it. I find it very boring.

Also, while I didn’t have the best advice about my body while I was growing up, with family members projecting their body weight issues onto me, I still managed to be very uncomplicated around my body and food. This meant that I was seldom overweight, until I gave up smoking 11 years ago.

What I remember feeling most often when I was 17kgs heavier was resignation. I was resigned to my middle life as a fat person. I got used to the pictures of a fat me on stage. I felt embarrassed, but resigned. I felt unhappy, but resigned. I felt not myself, but resigned. Until I decided that it was important to change and feel different. Important. I am so excited that I made that decision, and put it into practice. Because it is important. And I feel like I have made such an important decision.

The impact of that is huge. I am allowing myself to feel proud about my body. I am allowing myself to spend time on what I look like. Well, more time than I did before. I talk to everyone about it, honestly and with commitment. I want to have a sustained, healthy, committed relationship with my body. I want it to work for me, and when it does, I have a life that is so much better.

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