Carrot and Cashew Soup

Nearly Vegan Carrot and Cashew Soup

Heather’s competition recipe (from Alison Holst)

  • 500g carrots
  • 2 small onions
  • Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Curry powder and some cumin seeds
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup toasted cashews

Chop onions and begin to cook in the saucepan with the oil (soften rather than caramelise them), add curry powder and cumin. Then chop and add carrots, add the stock and simmer till the carrots are tender. In a blender process the toasted cashews to the consistency of ground almonds (can be toasted under a grill with 1/2tsp oil). [Or if you are Tim just add them before the final few wizzes in the food processor.] Drain cooked carrots and onion and put into blender with ground nuts. Process adding stock as required to get the desired consistency.[Again I just slopped the lot into the food processor, and added the nuts – see above – just before finishing, to keep a bit of crunch.]

Taste & adjust seasoning. Reheat to serve.

Experience (the Voice of): Tasty, filling and robust! Yum, this will certainly be added to the staple soups for something quick, easy, tasty and filling for when we have a crowd for lunch. I’m going to experiment a bit more, next time the Cumin will definitely be ground not seeds (they went all fibrous when processed ๐Ÿ™ and I’ll reduce the curry powder a bit further and add Coriander leaves as garnish instead of the Yogurt in the photo making it really Vegan again ๐Ÿ™‚

BTW: If you try a competition recipe and like it please either say so in the comments on this blog post, or click the “Like on Facebook” button, that way I can factor your preferences into the result. Voting more than once will only count as one, even for your own entry ๐Ÿ˜‰

Mixed grain and seed bread

Bread of both kinds, though the "flatbreads" rose so much this time they are almost mini-loaves ๐Ÿ˜‰

Several of the competition recipes need bread to accompany the main dish, and even more fine bean and lentil recipes do, so here’s what I usually do for a tasty fairly quick bread.

Put into the breadmaker (in roughly this order):

  • a cup or two of warm water (if you are not Vegan you will get softer bread adding an egg to the water or substituting milk for the water)
  • a Tbsp of dried yeast (the fancy mixes work even better)
  • a Tbsp of sugar
  • 1-2 cups of wholemeal flour
  • 1-2 cups of plain (strong = breadmaking = hi-grade) flour
  • some (1/4-1/2 cup?) flax seed (Linseed) to add fibre, and vitamins and minerals, and above all taste
  • 1/4 cup gluten flour
  • tsp salt

Start the breadmaker on the dough setting, unless you are more practiced than I you will need to adjust the flour and water till the dough seems roughly right (not stickly and sloppy, but not too hard and crumbly either).

Meanwhile put in a covered dish:

  • 1 cup mixed kibbled grain – today I am using kibbled wheat and rye flakes (Isn’t “kibbled” a nice olde worlde word? But I could not get kibbled rye at the supermarket and was not near the bin-inn…)
  • 1 cup boiling water

When the dough is risen switch off at the mains, add the soaked kibbled grains, and switch on again. For really solid and tasty add 1/2 cup seeds (pumpkin, sunflower…). At this stage you may need to add more flour, it depends how dry your soaked grains are…

When kneaded either:

  • make flatbread – just pull off tennis ball (or a bit smaller) lumps and roll or pat into a flat “loaf”. Leave to rise and then either bake (200C), grill or BBQ sloshing oil and sprinkling with salt makes them even nicer ๐Ÿ™‚
  • make country focaccia, roll into French Stick like sausages. Leave to rise and spread. Bake (200C) till then give a nice solid tump when you tap them.

“Leave to rise” depends on the heat, phases of the moon, how much of a hurry you are in (bread dough before it is ready to cook can sense hungry children and rises more slowly in their presence) but an hour in the airing cupboard or in the oven onย  50C is often enough. It should at least double in size.

NB: brushing the top with oil, or milk, or egg, or even water really helps the crust, sprinkling with salt and seeds adds interest too. You can also add herbs, rosemary is great, but add them late in the final mix even after the kibbled grains.

A busy weekend and another problem :(

Cosset Cafe 1087 New North Rd, Mt Albert, Auckland NZ offers a mainly Vegan menu, including some meal options, but most cafes and cheaper eateries don't ๐Ÿ™

Our busy weekend reveals another difficulty with trying to cut back meat, eggs and (possibly) dairy. We were rushing from place to place so we only had 2-3 meals (including breakfasts) at home over the weekend, one lunch was fish and chips (the only other option in that part of town was a meat pie), though one cafe meal was mushrooms few cafes have more than one vegan (or even quasi-Vegan) meal on offer.

In Auckland we could have gone to Cosset, but eating out on busy days may prove difficult ๐Ÿ™

Milk without Money

Well perhaps not, but I thought that quote from Isaiah 55.1 was appropriate since that’s what it can seem like when trying to eat less meat and animal products.ย  It seems like there is dairy everywhere, flowing with milk and honey indeed!

Just after Tim’s most recent post about dairy and its relationship to being a repentant carnivore, I realized just how big of a deal dairy is. Over this past week I’ve been out and about a lot. I’ve been at family and church gatherings and also been caught having to eat at restaurants a number of times. When it comes to family and church gatherings I think these situations are probably most difficult for meat avoidance.ย  At one family gathering this past week, it was either eat meat or virtually nothing at all (my wife’s family had a crawfish boil, though I’m not sure about the ecology of eating crawfish).

In the case of eating out, I am realizing that vegetarian eating decisions are sometimes fairly easy to make while vegan ones often are not (There are no restaurants that I know of with vegan offerings anywhere within about a 45 minute drive from my home).ย  The reason for this is that many of the vegetarian dishes that I have seen, at least at the restaurants I have eaten at recently, contain cheese or some other dairy product as a primary ingredient.

One meal that I ate was at a microbrewery that is also a restaurant.ย  I mainly go there for the beer ๐Ÿ˜‰ (and please no one tell me that beer is ecologicially bad, I’m not sure I could bear that this early on in trying to make a change), but my wife likes the food.ย  Oddly enough, there they had several vegetarian style offerings (Based on past experiences I would normally not expect a brewhouse to be so sensitive).ย  Yet in each case the vegetarian offerings had cheese as one of the primary ingredients.ย  So, I did the best I could.ย  I ordered the personal size vegetarian pizza.ย  I suppose I could have asked them to hold the cheese, but I’m not sure how appetizing that would have been.

In another case, my wife and I ate at our local Greek and Lebanese restaurant called Albasha.ย  I like Albasha’s fare because many of the dishes that I like are devoid of meat.ย  However, once again everything usually comes with some sort of yogurt sauce or dressing.ย  I ordered the falafel sandwich.ย  It had a bit of a creamy tahini sauce on it and it came with feta salad, but I did feel better about it than the vegetarian pizza.

I guess these experiences just reinforced that one’s decision about dairy can be a really important one and one that I have been thinking a great deal about…

Pot of beans & judging the competition

Not my beans, look somethinglikes photo from La.blasco

I have not started on trying out the competition recipes, there was too much food around that needed using up this week. I won’t be over the weekend as I’ll be in Tauranga and want easy meals (see below), but plan to next week. This means there is still time to ask your friends for their best Vegan maincourse or lunch (i.e. substantial but portable) recipes…

Beans with Preserved Lemons

So as to have a couple of quick easy meals for the weekend, and a tasty meal last night I did a big pot of those young greenish (but dried) beans in the slow cooker yesterday. The ones that are like Flageolet Beans, but not from the Harricot but perhaps Fava… [BTW the slow cooker is great for beans, but NOT the red ones, as they need a good fast boil for some of their cooking time to remove poisons ๐Ÿ™ ]

Just put:

  • Some chopped onions and garlic (less than the onions ๐Ÿ˜‰ but plenty I used six cloves)
  • Bay leaves/Thyme/Rosemary
  • Beans

In the pot and more than cover with vege stock (my second batch of Nathan’s free stock worked fine with just the stalk ends of celery and other peelings and wastage including onion and garlic skins) the exact quantity is difficult as different beans soak up different quantities. (BTW in the slow cooker all day there is no need to pre-soak the beans.) The ideal is if you can look in on them at lunch time to maybe add more stock.

Near the end of cooking add some preserved lemons and limes. In NZ now is the time to set up a shelf of jars, as limes are as cheap as they get, and they do make the lemons taste even better ๐Ÿ™‚ The preserving somehow mellows the flavour and they go brilliantly with the beans adding interest to the dish. The Velveteen Rabbi called them “sunshine in a jar” – I can’t beat that ๐Ÿ˜‰

Season and if need be thicken the sauce with a little maize meal/cornflour.

Should dairy products count as meat?

Are beans really "worse" than cheese? (Photo by pizzodisevo, modified)

In my first post I classed eggs and diary products (in particular cheese) with meat as things Repentant Carnivores might try to cut back on. Since then Heather has emailed some interesting calculations. She was curious whether using less dairy would in fact use less land. This was an issue that came up in the discussion on the Tear Fund Facebook page too, so I’ll copy Heather’s figures here:

[u]sing my ‘food footprint’ spreadsheet I already had and plugging in data for g of protein/kg of the food I found you get the following numbers of kg of protein per Ha of land:

  • Nuts (as peanuts) 480
  • Pulses (dry, uncooked) 125
  • Milk 243
  • Yoghurt 270
  • Cheese, milk powder 274
  • Eggs, free range(12 = 636g) 42
  • Goat infinite! (as in NZ goat meat tends not to be farmed as such – it’s feral goat or goat that is brought on to increase the productivity of the land for other uses by them eating up the gorse)
  • Beef 52
  • Chicken (free range) 37
  • Pork (free range) 22
  • Sheep meat 14

Based on that, it looks like eggs should be thought of in the same light as meat, but that dairy products use no more land than pulses or nuts. And that goat should be eaten in abundance ๐Ÿ™‚

On the other hand, to get the same g of fat butter takes 21 times the amount of land as canola oil (although if you’re consuming other dairy products obviously a bit of fat goes along with it).

There’s lots to discuss here ๐Ÿ˜‰ Is the goat meat my butcher sells feral goat, or imported meat with huge cost in fuel etc? Should sheep meat be thought of as “worst”, remembering that sheep (in NZ at least) usually use land that is not good for other “crops”? But if these figures are correct (can anybody verify or challenge them?) it looks as if Milk, Cheese and Yoghurt could come off the RC list, which would be very good news for cheese-lovers ๐Ÿ™‚

Trying faux meat

Today was a bit of a hectic day.ย  I know Tim has elsewhere expressed his consternation toward “faux meat.”ย  ๐Ÿ˜‰ But, we are, in fact, working through this issue separately, though we are co-blogging our experiences.ย  So, I gave the stuff a try today.

For one thing, I was a bit intrigued.ย  For another thing, I thought it might be easy to try faux meat with my kids one day since it at least looks like food that they are accustomed to rather than reducing meat altogether.ย  As to that, we may see …

My faux meat experience was in the form of a Boca Chik’n Patty.ย  I suppose this is a bit of what the American diet is about.ย  We have been raised on fast and easy.ย  And, this certainly was on a bit of a hectic day.ย  Our oldest is in ballet camp and my wife is in midst of rearranging the house while I’m working (no summer off for me – my wife works as a school librarian).ย  On top of that I think the two year old is teething.

My impression was this – it wasn’t so bad, but certainly not the kind of thing you could live on.ย  Also, it is the kind of thing that is fine on a bun, but taken on its own I don’t imagine it would have been quite as palatable.ย  No wonder most of the faux meat offerings are burger shaped.ย  I realize that’s not quite a stellar review, but I realize not every meal is going to be ideal.

I’ll probably make use of the patties again if in a pinch, but I don’t think I could make a habit of it.ย  My next project is going to be trying to work my way through some recipes in The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen.ย  I actually bought the book a while back, but it lead to a fairly frustrating experience that I do not wish to detail.ย  But, I wanted to pick it up and give it another shot.ย  There are some really tasty looking pictures in there at least.ย  I’ll let you know if any of those work out.

Removing the Beam?

I suppose I should begin with an introduction.ย  My name is Jeremy. I normally blog here and, if you’re interested, you can learn a bit more about me here (though now that I’ve just looked I need to update some of that info ;-)).ย  After commenting on Tim’s post on being a repentant carnivore, he asked me if I’d be interested in co-blogging with him on this topic.ย  I thought this would be a worthwhile project so here I write.

I, like Tim, have become increasingly concerned about my own consumption of meat both from the standpoint of health and ecology, though I think Tim’s concern is primarily in terms of resources.ย  For me at least, it is not a matter of abstinence, as I don’t see any problems inherent in eating meat, but rather one of moderation.ย  If my meat consumption is at the expense of others, or if it is deteriorating my own health, then this failure to practice self-control is wrong, and I should amend my diet.

One issue that I will try to bring to the fore is one that Tim alluded to in his first post, namely that of trying to reduce meat consumption as well as the consumption of animal products with children in my home.ย  Not only children, but children who have been raised on an American diet.ย  They like pizza, macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, and … well, that’s about it.ย  They will both eat fruit if that is all we have to offer, but balk at vegetables.

The matter that I have been thinking about the most from the outset is what approach I should take with my children.ย  My wife is fully on board with reducing meant consumption; however, attempts at getting our children to make changes to their diet often lead to a great deal of frustration.

My dilemma is whether my wife and I should attempt to model a more meat-less diet for a time first and then attempt to bring the children along; something analogous to removing the beam from our own eyes first before we can try to help them.ย  Or should we attempt to have the children participating from the start?ย  I suppose the first option may seem a bit cowardly, but the initial frustration that may result from option two oftentimes leads to failure that can seem like a serious setback.

For the time being, I have started by trying to reduce my own meat consumption.ย  Today was entirely devoid of animal products for me.ย  And, I suppose that’s a start.

Has anyone ever tried this or something analogous with their children?ย  What has worked for you?ย  I’d be glad to hear your thoughts, and I’m looking forward to dialoguing through this experience with you.

Two lessons in meat avoidance

Last time we went “semi” it was a doddle, as semi-Vegetarians whenever we were stuck we’d use cheese or eggs, but if we’re serious about the environmental and justice implications of our eating semi-Vegetarian does not cut the mustard, only Vegan or semi-Vegan seems to work. Egg and dairy meals seem to needย nearly as much of the earth’s resources as meat. That’s why (at least for me, when other bloggers start to post their position is up to them) I am counting servings of meat, dairy and eggs.

Our meals at the weekend offer two lessons for us repentant carnivores (or even just possibly thinking about it RCs). Saturday’s lesson is a goodie ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Sunday’s a bummer ๐Ÿ™

On Saturday for lunch, we had family round, so I tried repentant roast veges and roast potatoes. By “repentant roast veges” I mean that to make the shock smaller for the others (all full-blooded carnivores) I added a little parmesan cheese to the veges just before serving. Only about one serving of cheese between the four of us, but enough to add a meaty edge to the veg ๐Ÿ™‚

Then in the evening, we had mushrooms with buckwheat, and again I added less than 1/2 a portion of cheese between the two of us.

Result two meals a carnivore will hardly notice as they taste meaty, but less than one portion of animal products per person for the day. That’s what being aย  repentant carnivore is all about ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Not becoming doctrinaire Vegans or even sectarian Vegetarians, but using a sustainable “fair” share of resources.

Not khyber Spice Invader's samosas, rather they are by Benimoto, but they look good ๐Ÿ™‚

Sunday lunch though was different, a pot-luck at church. Our offering (I was preaching at Royal Oak, so didn’t have time to cook) was some delicious and either Vegan or Vegetarian Samosas (depending if Khyber Spice Invader’s supplier used real or vegetable ghee). But church pot-lucks are not good places to try to eat even semi-Vegan, chicken and cheese and meat everywhere. The visiting Muslim did better, as only the Cheerios had pork, and I at least am not at all tempted by Cheerios ๐Ÿ˜‰

Stockpot (tip from a real chef)

Vegetable wastage steamily making savoury stock

I’ve just followed the advice of my son (Nathan, the chef) and put all the offcuts from the roast veges for lunch into a pot with water to make stock. Cheap (well effectively free), easy (as easy as putting them in the bin or compost, though there will be another step as they end up there later) and he says tasty.

It will also help to make up for the stock I will be making from chicken carcasses less often from now on…


PS: Nathan warns in the comments below to avoid the leaves of the celery. He’s right ๐Ÿ™‚ย  as I found out the hard way. Before I saw the commment I used the leaves, result delicious stock, except too bitter to use ๐Ÿ™