Friday, November 20, 2015

Mercy, Mercy, Me

The 30 day challenges came to a merciful end and then it all became effortless. I thought about eating meat but the notion just wasn't appealing. I thought about having a nice, hot, bubbling slice of cheese on toast, but it didn't float the boat, and, then, I realised that for 10 days or so I had not had any dairy at all, not even in tea.
Before deciding that I just wasn't going to eat it I had thought that cheese would be the thing that would keep me from being dairy free. I love cheese. I'll pay more for a tiny slab of cheese than I will for a bottle of wine or olive oil. but it hasn't been much of an issue.
I think one of the benefits of being meat and dairy free is that you eat nutritious food. Nearly everything I eat is pretty healthy and I don't really get hungry, ever. I do get greedy, but I don't get hungry. It requires a bit of effort, but not that much and I tend to cook a fair bit on the weekend, and there's plenty leftover to take to work through the week.
I have some staples, such as a sweet spud and lentil soup, pea and spinach soup,  black bean soup, leek and spud soup, chestnut and mushroom soup, and pretty much every day I have one of those, or another soup, with a wrap for dinner, having started the day with my world famous porridge.
I make a big pot of humous twice a week, using dried chickpeas, which only cost about 3 quid for a fucking huge bag: 8 oz of dried chickpeas when soaked and cooked, yield plenty, about 3 tins worth, probably, and they are much nicer. I spread a load of it on a wholemeal wrap, add a load of chopped spinach, lettuce and me pickled peppers and carrots, and there you go, dinner, more or less, done. I do vary it a bit, but, essentially, that's it. That, and few bits of fuit, keep me really full all day. I could probably do without tea, but I'm an old fashioned chap and when it's teatime, I have tea, regardless of whether or not I'm hungry.
I am practically existing on pulses. Bizarrely, having given up meat and dairy, I was assailed by bloody gout. I thought it was the pulses causing that, which pissed me off, but, apparently, the purines in beans don't cause gout. I also thought it was slightly odd to be scoffing so many beans and lentils every day, but I rationalised that I had thought nothing of scoffing meat and dairy every single day for fifty six and a half years and that hadn't done me any harm, apart from being a fat bastard with a fucked up heart, needing 5 different tablets every single day.
Tea, quite often, is a baked spud. Until a few weeks ago I would not have dreamed of having a baked spud that wasn't drenched in butter and cheese and topped with bacon and its delicious fat. Not even in my worst nightmares. Those days are over, for now. I get  that big pot of humous and I fill the damn spud up with that, and top it with a load of caramelised onions, sometimes I add a bit of harissa to the humous, just to vary the bastard a bit. Alternativley, I use a bit of oil and top it with onions and wilted spinach and a big handful of nutritional yeast flakes. Often, a tin of beans is involved .
It's all very well as long as things go to plan. 
I just had a disastrous weekend. Everything I coooked turned to shit. I did a bean soup which was like a pebble soup even though I'd soaked the beans for about 12 hours and cooked 'em for 2. I whizzed up the lentil and sweet spud soup with a cinammon stick and star anise still in it, rendering it inedible. I cut the spuds for a moussaka too thick, and, by the time they'd cooked through, the aubergines had as good as melted away. There was too much salt in the goddam polenta.
This is where it's problematic.....when everything you have cooked is inedible, ruined or revolting. In the old days it would be simple; have cheese on toast or a bacon roll, or a ham sarnie, or all 3, with chips, and maybe an egg and, possibly, ham sandwich. All of these are still an option, but I'm choosing not to eat those things, and I have yet to come up with something really quick, really simple, and  really fucking nice to eat that I can knock up in a couple of minutes when I can't be arsed cooking.
The forecasters tell us that winter will be upon us this weekend, so I'll share me sweet spud and lentil recipe, because it's a right cockle warmer. If you are not the forgetful type, and you have the patience to steam fry the onions stick a star anise and cinammon stick in at the beginning, makes it nicer, but it's nice enough without, and I won't be bothering again.
1 big sweet potato
1 big onion
1 stick of celery
4 cloves garlic
Big knob of ginger (not Prince Harry)
6 ounce red lentils
A couple of veg stock cubes or some boullion powder
A shitload of good quality curry powder
A tin of coconut milk
About 2 pints water, depending on how thick you like it
Either soften the onion celery and garlic in oil, or, steam fry 'em until they get soft, then bung everything else in, let it bubble away for 20-30 minutes then whizz up
Omit the first bit, just chuck it all in and let it cook for 20-30 minutes and whizz up. It really doesn't make much difference

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