But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan! – Kirsty Turner

28110843I don’t usually review cookbooks, not least because my other half is very much the cook in our home (I know, lucky me). I, however, need to follow recipes to make anything. ANYTHING. It is annoying difficult to get cookbooks that aren’t just a vehicle to show off fancy ingredients/dinner party showstoppers etc; or that are both healthy AND hearty (and allow for sweet and savoury treats too). My other half runs Vegan Kitchen Corner, and anyone who follows his page knows that in our house we like nutritious, affordable, and most importantly delicious grub. He is able to create delicious meals in his mind just by looking at what ingredients we have in the house (I know, lucky me!!) but I’m always on the look-out for cookbooks that will allow me to not make an epic disaster when it’s my turn to cook.

Kirsty Young has form with cookbooks – she is the bestselling author of But I Could Never Go Vegan! which is a brilliant title, given it is the mantra of every single vegan before they went vegan! This book builds on that foundation to provide delicious meal ideas for the whole family. Thankfully perceptions are changing, and only relics and the deeply closed minded think that vegan food=rabbit food. Mind you, as long as caterers think that iceberg lettuce and two cherry tomatoes is a meal, you can see how non-vegans might genuinely not know what vegans eat. This book outlines vegan cooking in simple terms. Like its predecessor, each chapter of this book tackles a different objection: ‘I don’t have time to cook elaborate family dinners’; ‘My parents don’t understand why I won’t eat my childhood favourites’; ‘The in-laws will just add this to their list of things to hate about me’ etc – and provides amazing recipes in response.

But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan! assumes no prior knowledge or skill with vegan cooking – it has an excellent introduction with general information about staple foods, cooking equipment, different preparation times etc. and lots of helpful tips. Young’s writing style is witty and warm; the recipes are clearly laid out; and best of all (for those of us who slavishly follow recipes or panic) she suggests alternative ingredients “out of quinoa? Use rice”. I love that there are pictures for pretty much everything, I hate it when you can’t see what the end result is supposed to look like! The downside of this – even flicking through this book made me RAVENOUS. You’d nearly lick the pages everything looks so yum! If you cooking for vegans or vegetarians of any age, or you just want your diet to be kinder to your body and the planet – I really can’t recommend this book enough. All 125 of these recipes are going to get made – this has just joined my (tiny) list of go-to cookbooks.

But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan! is published by The Experiment and will be available from all good bookshops in January 2017. Pre-order your copy now. I received a copy of this book in return for an impartial review.

A Decent Cup of (Vegan?) Tea

How do I love tea? Let me count the ways… actually let’s not do that or we’ll be here all day. Let’s just say there’s a reason Mrs. Doyle is my favourite Fr. Ted character and leave it TEAat that. I’ll just also leave this picture of an actual grocery shop of mine here as supplementary evidence. I love the stuff. I have extremely exacting standards in the tea department, with weak tea being top of my beverage taboos. Just… why? As every good Irish person knows, there is no situation so great or grave that it cannot be improved by a nice cup of tea. Bad day at work? Tea. Bad back? Tea. Bad news? Tea. Just given birth? Tea. Exciting news? Well sure just sit down here with a nice cup of tea and tell me all about it… It’s simply a fundamental part of life. It could also well be the reason for our next civil war, with familial and geographic factions of Lyons or Barry’s drinkers fiercely loyal to their brew of choice.

Prior to World War II, Ireland was the third highest tea-consuming country in the world per capita, with our brew imported via the tea market in London – until tighter export controls in the UK during the war meant that we lost 75% of our supply. Knowing full well that the notoriously ‘roll over and take it’ attitude of the Irish public wouldn’t hold up if they were denied tea, the government quickly set up a new importing agency and a 3867421massive warehouse in the Dublin docklands that could hold a full two years supply of tea leaves for the nation. Tea Importers Ltd (props for naming originality!) dealt directly with tea producers in the countries of origin and quickly discovered that darker teas than we had been getting via England were more popular here. Now Irish people drink some of the highest grades of tea in the world, with gold label black tea dominating the domestic market. None of the weak and thin Indian teas, nor the bergamot laden Earl Grey so popular ‘across the water’ in the UK cut it for us.  Our high grade tea leaves guarantee that the less heavily marketed ‘black stuff’ of Ireland is crazy delicious, and that I can’t go on holiday without a stash of teabags somewhere on my person.

It’s Day 18 of Veganuary, meaning I am more than halfway through, and I knew going in that if there was one potential trauma for me in the month it would be not being able to have a decent cuppa. I drink a wide range of herbal teas too, but I knew they weren’t going to cut it. The morning mug of ‘real’ tea is the only reason I have managed to get to work for about ten years, and I am a twitchy edgy mess if I don’t get to unwind with another cuppa in the evening. I need my ‘real’ tea.

Continue reading “A Decent Cup of (Vegan?) Tea”

Hair of the cat

Day #9 of Veganuary and I’m feeling pretty darn good if I’m honest. I fully intended to write a blog impressively full of tips and packed with photos and recipes of the simple delicious vegan goodness we’ve been having the last few days but… it’s Saturday. So instead here’s the recipe for the dangerously delicious milky vegan cocktail Himself whipped up this evening.

cocktail

To make Hair of the Cat you’ll need:

  • One measure of Ponche*
  • One measure of Malibu
  • 12.5g of ginger dark chocolate (we used half a bar of Moser Roth from Aldi which is cheap as chips and delicious)
  • Five whole shelled hazelnuts
  • 500ml of coconut milk.

Simply blend all the ingredients together and serve in your receptacle of choice. The above will make roughly a pint, but instead of a pint glass I’ve just put some in a jam-jar for the picture like an insufferable hipster bastard 🙂 Enjoy!

*We used our favourite Spanish liqueur Ponche de Caballero, but this would work just as well with Tia Maria or Kahlua instead.

 

 

Becoming one of them?

After over two decades of vegetarianism, I’m trying veganism for the first time this January. I’m joining over 20,000 people and counting who have signed up to Veganuary 2016 pledging to live without meat, fish, dairy and all other animal based food for thirty-one days. Pretty much the entire family got a nasty bout of gastroenteritis during the no-mans land between Christmas and New Year – and so the start of Veganuary went without a hitch. It’s very easy to be vegan when you literally aren’t eating anything! I’m writing this on Day #7, but for normal eating purposes it’s more like Day #3. So the food has yet to prove an issue but mentally it’s already taking it out of me if I’m honest.

You see, even as a vegetarian I found vegans a bit… off. Weird even. It all seemed so extreme. What on earth were they eating? How did they cope without a decent cup of tea?! I don’t get what the problem is with wool? Or with honey? Bees love honey, don’t they?! Vegucated is a highly watchable documentary currently streaming on Netflix which follows three meat and cheese loving New Yorkers as they attempt to be vegan for six weeks. I watched it for the first time last week and wholly identified with the Vegucated crazysequence where director Marisa Miller Wolfson talks about how she had always thought vegans were weird. Later Brian, one of the three subjects of the documentary, confesses the same. Yup – that’s how I felt for a long time. It didn’t help that the only vegans I met for many years were either hard-core animal activists (the animal version of the awful placarding pro-life nuns who used to terrorise O’Connell St in the 90s) or incredibly unhealthy people with skin conditions who literally cut animal produce out of their diet and subsided on pasta and other refined carbs. So an opinion formed in my mind a long time ago – veganism was not for me. It was too dogmatic, too preachy, there were too many rules and fundamentally I didn’t exactly enjoy myself around the vegans I had met. And like any opinion held for a long time, it’s calcified within me. I’m now doing Veganuary and I’m still thinking –hmmm. Vegan. Am I now one…of them? Continue reading “Becoming one of them?”