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Not That Nice July 31, 2008

Posted by tuimeltje in administrative, dessert, non-food veganness.
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Today, I decided to have dessert before dinner. Or just have dessert. I’ve not actually made dinner yet, since I’ve not actually done the dishes yet. It’s possible, even likely, that this won’t happen at all today.

A while back, when my boyfriend was over here, we had some basic vanilla soya ice cream with crumbled chocolate country cookies (cheap oaty-biscuits with little chocolate pips). While I’m not too crazy about either food on it’s own, mixed up they’re actually quite nice and I’ve been thinking of making it again. So after work today I stopped by the supermarket. The organic one, not the general one Dice and I went to before. The one which doesn’t have those chocolate country cookies but does have small containers of ice cream rather than the .5l ones. But no longer the vanilla flavour, apparently. Since I didn’t want to try strawberry-chocolate not-country cookie, I went for chocolate instead.

Molten and crumbled, all mixed:

While it wasn’t that bad, it wasn’t as nice as the version Dice and I had earlier. Not sure why, really. The biscuit was the sort without beet or cane sugar, but I’m not that much into sweet foods so that should make it better, not worse. And I didn’t expect the different flavour ice cream to make that big a difference, either.
To be honest, though, the earlier version was only tasty for a bite or two, three at best. After that, it was just cold sweet stuff with biscuit bits. I noticed that with sorbet as well, not too long ago. Someone very kindly got me some recently, and while it tasted lovely at first, it soon stopped tasting like anything beyond “sweet”.

Completely switching gears here, I would like to mention a new little project of mine,
Fandom Veganism. It’s only just starting, but I hope it’ll grow a bit. It’s a blog about pop culture things and veganism.
I’d been thinking of starting something like that since TV often makes me vegan-ranty the way certain aspects of veg*ism are portrayed or the way characters display all kinds of ethics which, if displayed consistently, should give us a vegan character but rarely, if ever, actually do. While I occasionally rant about this for a bit, it never ends up a nice, interactive discussion so I figured this might be a way to get that.


Swiss Food July 29, 2008

Posted by tuimeltje in breakfast, food.
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Swiss National Day - Red, white or Swiss

Because August 1st is a relevant day in the life of me and I wanted to live in Geneva after visiting it just once, I thought I’d play along with Zorra’s Swiss National Day event.
Either make something Swiss, or make something red and/or white.

My knowledge of Swiss foods doesn’t extend beyond rösti, müesli, cheese, chocolate, fondue, and some mysterious dish generally referred to as “raclette” which I suspect involves cheese, but that won’t stop me.

With the recent trip and the moving and me finding out about it relatively late, this is going to be something simple. Initially I wanted to make some rösti because I love that stuff and unlike the other Swiss foods I know about, it’s vegan by default. However, when looking for some instructions, I came across this lovely recipe video mentioning something about chilling the potatoes overnight being necessary. And with the deadline being today, well, that wouldn’t have worked.
It also taught me Dutch people tend to mispronounce rösti, even when they remember the ümlaut.

So I googled for a bit, working my way through a variety of NOT VEGAN meat-and-potato-and often-also-cheese dishes before realising I’d probably best stick to some traditional Birchermüesli. While I’ve spent a good many mornings breaking my fast with something the label insisted was, in fact, müesli, or at the very least muesli or even cruesli, I don’t recall ever eating anything like the original version.
So. No time like the present, eh? And what better occasion than Swiss celebration.

While there are many variations, I figured I’d best start with the basics, which also serves the purpose of this post best.

Some of the recipes I found specified that the apples should be the sour sort. While I like my apples, I’m not sure which ones are generally seen as sour, though I wouldn’t be surprised if the Granny Smith was on that list. I just got whatever organic local kind I could find at the supermarket, which ended up a good old-fashioned jonagold.

What I made:

How I made it:

-Soaked a tablespoon of oats in three tablespoons of water and a tablespoon of (bottled, not freshly squeezed) lemon juice.
-Let it stand for a while.
-Added a tablespoon of soyamilk.
-Cut a jonagold apple, with my Swiss Army knife of course, and shredded it over the oats.
-Mixed it all up.
-Ate it, enjoyed it.

I think I may have messed up with the quantities somewhere. I ended up with a little bit of oatmeal-like stuff and a lot of grated apple.

As for some more random Swiss-ness, mixing it up with some veg*an-ness, there’s this vegetarian restaurant, Hiltl, in Zürich, which is over a hundred years old. I want to visit it.

And to mix random Swiss-ness up with some lovely piping, something I loved before I even knew about veganism, I give you this, a video of an old Swiss bagpipe.

Piped July 29, 2008

Posted by tuimeltje in food, non-food veganness, travel.
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As promised, the highlights of my recent trip to the UK, during which I played my pipes very fast, got neither seasick nor carsick (yay for ginger!), feel I easily met this year’s quota of pub-time and karaoke-time getting drunk or singing (became aquainted with the combine harvester song, though), had a delightful meet-up with Sinead, did some proper cultural stuff involving museums, ruins, and cemeteries, ate well despite not having access to a kitchen, wondered what the Irn Bru flavour reminded me of, and enjoyed the occasional random sudden fogs.

Starting with the food, since this is a food blog. We did not have access to the kitchen this year. Normally we do, and someone makes something approximating a proper English breakfast. Since this involves a whole bunch of animal bits, I tend to stick to factory bread with peanut butter, to which I added some kale this year. Unexpectedly decent combination, that.
Beyond breakfast, though, this kitchen is hardly used. So I’ve gotten into the habit of taking care of myself, making use of basic supermarket grub.

Lucky for me, there are several supermarkets and a health food store near the place we always stay, so getting my hands on food is terribly easy. The old stand-by is a tub of hummus with a bag of washed carrots, supplemented with whatever looks convenient. Which is quite a lot, actually. This weekend I ate beets wrapped in local kale (it took me a while to figure out the ribs are best removed, though), those long pointy peppers, untoasted cinnamon-raisin bagels which didn’t taste as cinnamon-y as I’d hoped, and the red salsa-spicier-than-expected refried beans mix as seen on the picture below. All of it decent, varied grub that didn’t require heating.
And people still say being vegan is intrinsically difficult. Yeah, right.

On Saturday, we did a bit of piping for a veterans parade. The reason we were there, really. And it was one of the biggest ever this year, which was incredibly cool.

After the piping was done, I took a train to Edinburgh to meet up with Sinead, one of the people on the picture below. I’ll leave you to guess who’s who.
Just out of random curiosity, are the Dutch the only ones who give three kisses on the cheeks when meeting friends or relatives? I think Sinead was used to two (were you?) and I once got kissed twice by these random Spanish girls. And while my boyfriend’s family has easily adapted to my third kiss, I’m pretty sure they initially stopped after two.

We generally hung out somewhere green and chatted (Sinead knows loads and is funny), which seems to be what I end up doing with people I know through internet-related things, and always ends up being surprisingly easy and an enormous amount of fun (I am not by nature a particularly social person). I was vaguely nervous about this meeting, but that pretty much went away once I’d had a short phone conversation with her that got cut off almost immediately after I’d relayed the basic information because she sounded very friendly.
We did some light hiking around Holyrood Park, which looks like it’s quite a ways away from the city centre but is confusingly close.

And since this was a vegan meet-up, a food exchange took place. Sinead gave me some Scottish not-cheese, Sheese, with proper oat biscuits to put it on, some very cool looking vegan haggis I will have to put on a proper baked potato (I had the omni variety at the very first band function I attended and remember actually quite liking it. With this one I won’t have to achieve a state of denial about the actual ingredients before enjoying it, which is excellent), some interesting smelling soap, vegan not-milk chocolate, a box of truly divine chocolate curry balls (this cocoa-spice thing needs further exploration), a box of yummy local cherry tomatoes fresh from the farmers market, and a very tasty and filling fresh chocolate flapjack which was so much better than the sticky sugary thing you get in supermarkets. It really does deserve a dance.
I lugged along a bunch of mostly licorice-type things since she mentioned liking it once. It’s pretty abundant here and not so much in most other places. And dried capucijners. Those don’t seem to be eaten anywhere else and I’ve yet to come across a vegan who doesn’t appreciate legumes.

Proper Scottish thisle from the park to prove I did actually set foot in that country.

On our way back to the ferry, we visited Lindisfarne, a tidal island, where we didn’t have time to do much except marvel at the sudden appearance of a good fog. We were all amused by the tide warning signs. Actually, whenever we mentioned going there, people made sure to ask if we’d checked out whether we’d be okay with the tides, which makes me think the picture used wasn’t photoshopped.

Check the tide tables, people. The car you save may be your own.

Two Again July 23, 2008

Posted by tuimeltje in administrative, dinner, food, rant, travel.
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Two things, mostly related to my internet access and posting frequency, though it does end with a rant.

One, I’ll be hanging out in the UK for a few short days, playing my pipes and spending too little time with Sinead. I’m unlikely to have internet access there at all, though I’ll bring my camera and post about the highlights later.

Two, I’ll be moving soon. I’ve been sort of looking for a flat for a while now, what with me getting slightly tired of student housing and looking forward to living with my boyfriend, but this is still happening rather suddenly so I’ll have to arrange a bunch of stuff quite quickly. All very exciting (my own (tiny) kitchen! Gotta get me a fridge…), but again something that’ll lead, if not to scattered internet access, at the very least to scattered internet time.
And scattered me, certainly. I’m not particularly organised at the best of times, but combining a hardly-prepared move with a job and a nice bit of cat-sitting is probably going to leave me temporarily flaily and absent-minded.
Or, uhm, more flaily and absent-minded than usual.

To make this at least vaguely about food, I should maybe mention the soup I made on Monday. Last week, when I made the salad with the last of the rice and beans, I kept some of the celery stalks, hoping they’d last until this week so I could make me some lentil soup to make use of my lentil stash and actually make something with those tinned diced tomatoes I’ve had lying around for, like, ever.
They lasted, so I made soup. It was good, though I should’ve maybe used fewer of those dried red peppers.
Live and learn.

Since I eat my lunch at work these days I rarely have the materials to make a decent sandwich meal, the kind I eat Tuesday evenings on the train to band practice, unless I make a special effort. For last night, I kind of forgot about that (see? Scattered).
So instead of sandwiches, I took along the frozen leftovers from the lentil soup. Which hadn’t properly thawed when I was on my way there, so I took the time to try that bain marie thing when everyone else was having coffee. While it’s better hot, it’s not too bad eaten cold. Eating it with bits still actually icy, however, kind of sucks.

Apparently (getting slightly ranty here), a basic, simple lentil soup is a strange and exotic food to your average Dutch omni. And not the good kind, either. The freaky outlandish sort that looks like puke.
Now I can’t argue too much with how the soup looked, as I’ve probably puked up things that vaguely resembled this soup, but the lentil is a fairly humble and incredibly common legume that is much more exciting than most people’d think.
Not freaky, and it shouldn’t be that strange and exotic to people who seem to like curry (the UK sort, from a nice jar or served at a friendly pub) and I assume were at least raised vaguely Protestant and might still be practising in some way or another. Red lentils are, like, totally biblical and everything.
Just ask Esau.

Also, me eating my lovely not-particularly-exotic soup shouldn’t make people tell me all about their worldly oh-so NOT VEGAN culinary experiences involving grubs and that thin webby bit between a duck’s toes. Really, it’s not what I want to hear when I’m bloody eating.
I generally quite like these people, but sometimes omnis confuse me. I strongly suspect they (omnis in general, but it became pretty obvious with this crowd) would like to make my eating habits all about the food so they won’t have to think about that pesky little ethical concept underlying it all (and since the food is obviously icky, they don’t have to try that, either). Why else would otherwise considerate people appear so unaware of how a vegan might feel about their NOT VEGAN culinary adventures? This was the sort of thing where the less adventurous omni would either get grossed out or get upset about the cuddly critter eating, so the only reason I can think of as to why someone would discuss it with me is that they see veganism as just another kind of adventurous eating, which would be one hell of a way to not get it.

It’s times like those that make me appreciate vegan freaks, people who know their legumes and also occasionally feel like aliens among their barbaric acquaintances.

Streeeeetch July 18, 2008

Posted by tuimeltje in dinner, food.
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Long time no post. Two reasons for that. One, this is the 100th post (confetti, please) and I thought I should maybe make it just a little special. Or at least mention it or something. Two, I’ve had a little week-long project going, as a kind of sub-whatever to the rather loose pantry project I still have on in the background.
As I probably mentioned before, I’ve gotten rather excited by Robyn’s stretchy bean and lentils and rice ideas so last week I decided to finally test it for myself.

Once again making good use of that 5l pan, I boiled me up those borlotti beans I’d had laying around for ages (after a nice bit of soaking, of course) and later on added some of the proper cook-for-45-minutes rice I’d had laying around for ages.
I also added an onion and some garlic, since that seemed like a nice addition and Robyn did it too.

I’m not sure, but I think cooking that large an amount of beans means some occasional stirring might be a good idea. While I cooked the beans for over two hours, there were still some that weren’t properly soft. My theory is they were on the bottom of the bean pile and therefore didn’t have as much access to the fluid, and stirring things up a bit might remedy that.
Will test this theory next time.

The things I made with this rice and bean food:

1. Rice and beans pretty much as they were, just with some spices and ketchup added. Eaten with a green salad. I made something similar to this a second time but I added the left-over tomato and some kale cubes and didn’t have any salad.

2. Some kind of chili-like food. Basically some rice and beans reheated with me adding spices, some of the sweet corn I froze earlier, and some tomatoes. Eaten with the rest of that green salad.

3. Soup. I’d saved the water in which I’d boiled the rice and beans and used that. I added some celery and carrots and spices. While tasty, it wasn’t as filling as I’d expected. Still, at this point my boyriend had arrived so we shared the (small) pan of soup. It’s not unusual for me to eat a whole pan of soup on my own, so it may just have been the amount that made it nt as filling as I’d expected.

4. Burgers. My first-ever attempt at making those myself. They turned out a little wetter and more fragile than I think they should’ve but they tasty nontheless. I added ketchup (a little too much, probably), some finely chopped onion, bread crumbs, some farina-like flakes, and some spices.
Served with potato-turnip mash, peas, and carrots.

5. Salad for eating on the train. I added some of the potato and peas I’d cooked earlier, some chopped celery, some spices, a fair bit of ketchup (I’m starting to wonder whether I can buy that stuff bulk), a few drops of liquid smoke, and some mustard.

I didn’t take too many pictures, and the ones of the second as-is dish were too horrible to post, so there’s just these two:



It was a lot of fun eating this way. Very convenient, too. You already have a base around which you can prepare your meals, and these ingredients are simple but incrediby versatile. While I won’t eat this every day, I can see this becoming a basic part of my diet, though I’ll probably also have times when I just cook up a lot of beans without the rice and do things with that. I just can’t see myself making rice hummus.
Also, except the burgers, all of these things ended up gluten-free without any conscious effort. And there should be a way to avoid having to use breadcrumbs and farina for the burgers, too.

Apart from being pleased with that 5l pan, I’m also very happy I decided to buy that container set at IKEA. Normally I resist buying more containers since I already have a good few I don’t use too regularly. Because of this I label the urges to buy I always get (but they’re so convenient…) when I spot nifty containers irrational and uneconomical and restrain myself.
Well, except that time at IKEA, but hey, when there, I also buy those biscuits. And the not-so-salty salty fish before MalacoLeaf started dating a beekeeper and added bivax to all of their products. Grrr…
Anyway, this container set contained some rather large containers that came in very useful in storing this stuff. And while a larger fridge, and, if you want to go extra stretchy, freezer, would be convenient, I did actually manage to fit it all in my limited space without having to kick out any of my other stuff. I’d worried some about whether I’d have the space to store it properly, but I needn’t have.