Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Veganuary: Week Two

As we entered Week Two of Veganuary, we were enjoying portions of meals that we’d cooked during Week One and stored in the freezer ready to be thawed and reheated as required.  Breakfast from Days One to Five consisted of either porridge or muesli, while the Burgers we made in Week One provided lunches for three days.  The Chili Con Soya and the Aubergine and Tomato Sauce, also from Week One, saw us right for our lunches.

We prepared a meal from our Egyptian recipe book ‘Nile Style’ (click here to read the review) for tea on Days One and Two.  The dishes we chose were a Tomato and Okra Stew and a Shepherd’s Salad.  These provided a colourful and filling couple of meals, and it was good to find some Dukkah, which we used to garnish the stew.  The salad took a while to lay out, but only seconds to mess up as we served it, but it was worth it for the photo opportunity.

We ate out for tea on Day Three, at the Chaophraya Thai restaurant in Central Birmingham, but as it was a spur of the moment decision, we were not equipped to write a full review.  Besides, we only had a main course each so it wouldn’t have been a comprehensive review anyway.  The restaurant menu offered a few vegetarian choices and we chose meals which were vegan to the best of our knowledge.  I went for a Massaman Tofu curry with Coconut Rice, while Jay chose an Aubergine with Garlic and Basil with Sticky Rice.  Jay’s dish turned out to be more a case of Garlic with Aubergine, but still tasted good, while I was happy with my choice.  The restaurant was fairly busy but service remained prompt and polite.  The final price was also reasonable, so we would be happy to call in at the restaurant again.

Day Four was when we did our shopping, so we had a ‘bought-in’ tea consisting of falafels, hummus, olives and other ‘nibbles’.  We were impressed with the labelling of vegan products in Sainsbury’s and this, together with us having a bit more of a clue about shopping for vegan food and drink, made our second shopping trip a lot less stressful.

We were back on the Thai cusine for tea on Day Five, and enjoyed a Vegetable Green Curry which we’d cooked and frozen before Veganuary started.  We must have been too hungry to photograph it though, sorry.

On Day Six, following a breakfast of Crumpets and Coffee, we entertained Jay’s parents, who were visiting for the day, with some home cooked vegan food.
We turned again to ‘Peace and Parsnips’ for recipes for lunch and part of tea.  For lunch we made Jacket Potatoes with a Leek and Broccoli filling, which we served with a simple salad of lettuce cucumber and tomato.  Unfortunately we didn’t get chance to photograph lunch, but it was enjoyed by all.
For tea we prepared an Indian meal, as we usually go out for a curry when they visit.  After the obligatory popadoms, pickles and chutneys, we were ready for the main course.  We had some of the Tomato and Tamarind Potatoes left over from week one, so we served this as a side dish to a mild vegetable curry cooked in coconut milk.  I also made a batch of chapattis, with enough left for week three.
We all enjoyed the curry, and again there was plenty left over for some meals in week three.

For Day Seven we were back to cooking for ourselves.  The weather was seriously cold, with a heavy frost on the ground.  This called for a warming bowl of porridge for breakfast which we flavoured with rice syrup in Jay’s case, and Carob syrup in mine.
For lunch we returned to a recipe for a vegan fry-up from Sally Butcher’s Veggiestan recipe book.  We’ve made it a couple of times before and enjoyed it, and it was certainly a good call for lunch on a cold winter’s day.  It consisted of a hollowed-out tomato filled with red pepper and walnut sauce, mushrooms spiced with fenugreek, fried shredded potatoes and scrambled tofu, for which we used the Shan Tofu that we made in Week One.  I haven’t shared a photo of it, as it’s not the most photogenic of meals, but that’s not going to stop us from making it again. It was delicious.
For tea we again cooked from Veggiestan, and chose another winter warmer; a Mushroom Stifado.  As we were alcohol free, we used veg stock to flavour the stew instead of red wine.  It didn’t have quite the same richness or piquancy but it still made a great stew, with both the mushrooms and shallots providing the heartiness.  We used cornflour to thicken it slightly before serving it over a bed of rice and orzo.

Now that we have reached the half-way point, we both feel more relaxed about our vegan diet.  We’re not missing meat or dairy products, but what we are missing is the convenience of not having to cook all of our own meals.  We love to cook at home, but it’s nice to have a night off from it every now and again, and a vegan diet restricts the options available to us.  At least that’s our experience after two weeks.  Next week, we want to try out a specialist vegetarian restaurant or two, to see what Birmingham has to offer vegan diners.

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