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ravenousveggie

Thoughts on veggie food, work, play and life in general

Monthly Loves – October

What an interesting month October turned out to be.  It started by working for a client in Berlin for a few days and ended with some exciting changes on the job front.  In October I also loved the following:

  • The Ethical Consumer Conference – I have been meaning to go to this for the last few years and this year it happened.  A really interesting day covering various topics from fashion to plastic. It was also very inspiring to see so many women keynote speakers who are running their own ethical businesses.  Ethical Consumer

 

Monthy Loves - October autumnal colours

 

  • Autumnal colours – we have had quite warm weather this year which was abruptly stopped by a cold spell.  I thought I have just missed the opportunity to go out walking to see the changing leaves, but luckily managed  a f
    ew hours enjoying the seasonal changes of colour

 

 

  • A fabulous meal at Sagar Restaurant.  A refreshingly different vegetarian/vegan Indian restaurant with three branches in London.  Sagar

 

  • After a particularly long and testing day at work on a very cold day getting home toIMG_0611 make my favourite comfort food – chickpeas, garlic and pasta – or Tuoni E Lampo as it is sometimes known.  I found this recipe many years ago in Rose Elliot’s book ‘The Bean Book’. Quick and easy to make. You can also add chilli, broccoli and
    pine nuts to make it into a more substantial meal.

 

 

 

 

  • This recipe for baked gnocchi from The Green Roasting Tin. A fabulous cookery IMG_0606book with both vegetarian and vegan dishes.  Will definitely be making more dishes from this book.

 

 

 

 

 

  • The Forge, Slindon, Sussex – I met a client here and we had the most wonderful lunch.  All freshly made, sourced locally and with with a veggie/vegan range of cheeses. It is also the village shop and well worth a visit.  

Just Desserts?

I have a really sweet tooth and I always look forward to dessert.

 

At home I like old fashioned desserts such as banana custard, apple pie or crumble, and rice pudding.  All the warm, comforting dishes of my childhood.

 

However eating out can be a bit more tricky.  Not from a decision making point of view (well sometimes!), but from identifying if any of the desserts are veggie/vegan friendly.

 

This is one of the things that annoys me the most, next to places only offering a vegetarian starterDessert Menu.  Some places are really good at identifying the vegetarian/vegan/gluten free options on their starters and mains.  But when it comes to desserts this information is frequently missing. The waiting staff, when quizzed tend to give you a blank look as they don’t know, and then have to quickly scuttle off to the kitchen to ask.  

 

For a while I assumed that if nothing was marked as being suitable for my dietary requirements then there was nothing I could eat.  And I wouldn’t ask, and the restaurant would miss out on selling more food.

 

I went to a new dessert restaurant this week that has opened up near where i live.  I was amazed to find that the extensive menu had absolutely no allergy/suitability information on it.  I asked the staff what was suitable for a vegetarian. The young chap said nothing was suitable as everything contained milk.  I politely corrected him and said that’s ok, I’m not vegan. Then I quizzed him about he marshmellows and the cheesecake. He was quite vague, but was saved by a co-worker who seemed to know her ingredients.  

 

I asked why there was no information on the menu and he replied that their suppliers change all the time so they can’t guarantee what ingredients are being used from one week to the next.  In view of the recent issues with Pret, and the staff member’s lack of understanding of dietary requirements, I did find this a little worrying. I doubt i will rush back and will definitely tell all my friends who I know have food allergies.

 

So not labelling menus is not only a pain for the customer trying to decide what to eat, leading to potential loss of business, but could also lead to a medical emergency for those not wary enough to ask.

Veggie Christmas Menus

Its that time of year when the Christmas party is being organised.  Desks fill with seemingly endless piles of menus. This time last year I wrote about how much cheese seemed to be on the menu for vegetarians.

So once again I start the sifting of menus.  Hopes being filled by lovely starters, only to see the same thing rehashed as a main.  Or goats cheese and blue cheese being snuck in where, quite frankly, it isn’t required.  I have even come across three venues that have no vegetarian or vegan option at all.

Overall tVeggie Christmas Menushis year’s offering seem to be a bit better though.  A move back to the days of nut roasts (hope they aren’t as dry as last year’s) and a move to root vegetables in various forms.  but most of them still have cheese attached to them in some form or other.

One menu I have come across has lovely starters and desserts, all marked as vegetarian, but no main course.  There is the option to have just two courses, so should I go for starter and dessert? Or ring them and see if they can do a veggie main? The first option would be better for the waistline.  The latter option will make me feel like the awkward one, but probably make the evening go by more easily. Decisions, decisions.

All the menus I have seen so far are very ‘brown’ looking.  None of them reflecting any of the colours we like to fill our homes with at this time of year.  

I would still like to see something like a spinach and mushroom roulade, a chickpea wellington, cashew nut and red pepper roast or spicy butternut squash with chickpeas.  All these go well (in my opinion) with the traditional Christmas veg.

Despite all the moves this year to vegetarian and vegan diets becoming more mainstream the Christmas offering does not seem to have kept pace.  Alas the world of variety of food for vegetarians at Christmas is one that continues to pass the majority of caterers by.

I would love to know what disappointing menus have you come across this year.

Charity Collection

Once a year I do a Street Collection for a charity I am involved with.

 

This involves turning up on a Saturday in my local town centre and standing still for as long as I have volunteered for.  I also have to be polite and welcoming to all the passers by.

 

Standing still in a busy shopping area can be quite hazardous, and has become more so over the years.  With so many people engrossed in their phones, or talking to others, you often get walked into.

 

For my first collection I was very nervous.   How will people react? Will I collect any money?  Will I remember all the rules (no shaking the tin, no heckling the public, stand the correct distance apart from other collectors….). Will I be warm enough? Can I stand for that long?

Donating Money To Charity

 

Collecting can be a lonely time.  Lots of people milling around you but very little contact with them.  Crowds tend to come and go, and towards the end of lunch time the area can become almost desolate of people.  Still,  you sand there in the hope that someone will come by – and even if they give you a smile that can be as encouraging as getting a donation as well.

 

Fifteen years later I now treat these sessions as a time to switch off and people watch.  Sometimes I feel like I am on one of the programs where the person stands still and a lot of activity happens around them.  I get to see the public at its best, and worst.

 

Fathers sharing precious moments with their children whilst mum is off elsewhere. Children throwing tantrums. Couples arguing. Happy people. Distressed people. It is also a chance to catch up on the latest fashions – spotting the best dressed and giving a mental prize for the best and worst dressed person you see.  

 

The strangest thing about doing a street collection is people’s’ reaction to you.  Some give money just because you are there collecting, even though they have no idea who you are collecting for.  Some assume from how you are dressed and the colour of the tin that you are a charity they know so give money. They seem a little confused when you explain who you are, but give money anyway.  Some give because their children are desperate for the sticker you hold in your hand. And some avoid you any which way they can.

 

The best people for me are those that stop and ask you who you are collecting for and what it involves, or those who have been on the receiving end of the service the charity provides.  This always leaves me feeling a little warm and fuzzy inside – to know the difference the charity can make.

 

So next time you see a charity collector, take time to understand who they are collecting for, give if you believe in their cause, but above all give them a smile and say hello.  It will bring a smile to their face and break the monotony.

 

Getting Prepared

Do you spend enough time getting prepared?  Prepared for what? It could be the day ahead; the important client meeting, job interview, special occasion.  Anything. Or do you know these things are coming up but somehow end up spending less time preparing than you thought you would, or thought you needed?

 

I do a bit of both.  Usually successfully, but sometimes I sit there and go ‘oh damn, I really should have put a bit more effort into this’.  Sometimes events and situations that appear to be straight forward, turn out not to be and you have to think on your feet.  Or prepare in a different way.

 

I go to a lot of networking events and have prepare for each one, usually the day before, by writing my 60 seconds (if required), thinking about my goals for the meeting and making sure I have business cards with me.  Just occasionally neither of these actions happen. So what do I do? Well, being the daughter of two hoarders, I usually have a stash of business cards in my handbag and wallet and keep a box of them in the car. This last one has bailed me out on numerous occasions, and helped when a casual conversation in a queue, or at a social occasion, has led to some new business.

Getting Prepared
Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

But what about not preparing for the meeting?  Well I do keep in my notebook a ‘stock’ 60 seconds that I can pull out and use.  In these situations I also hope that I can do my pitch half way round th group. That way I can pick up on themes or complimentary services that I can provide.  This also gives a double whammy of showing that i have listened to those before me , or understand the other skills in the group, and appreciate what they have to offer.

 

Some people are naturally good at preparing.  My partner prepares for meetings and events weeks in advance – planning out what he needs to do each day to get ready.  I find myself both in awe and dismay of this at the same time. However, whatever he is doing, he always does it well. Fail to plan, plan to fail as the old adage goes.

 

My problem with planning is that I used to plan for everything.  I had a reputation for being prepared for things, but also felt this made me come across as inflexible – as though if circumstances changed at the last minute I resented the change after all the effort I had put in.  I realised that even if you put a lot of effort into planning, most people don’t realise or appreciate it. I spent a long time trying to free myself up to e able to ‘go with the flow’ and just enjoy whatever happens next.  Be in the moment. Enjoy the moment.

 

So now I am in a weird no-mans land of being mostly prepared and occasionally not, but then making the most of each situation.  Some days I find this refreshing and congratulate myself on how I did. Some days I give myself a good telling off, and promise to do better next time.

 

Where are you on the preparedness scale?

 

Monthly Loves – September

I don’t know about you but for me September was very busy on all fronts.  I am glad to say that I did manage to get out and enjoy the continuing good weather and have so far managed to escaped the cold that appears to be going round.  In September I loved the following:

 

  • AdjustusV Bags – some great designs all made in India.  Although some of the bags have leather on them this is being phased out as the collection grows, so well worth a look .   https://adjustusv.com/

Monthly Loves - September - AdjustusV Bags

  • The Refill App – 27th September was National Refill Day  -a day encouraging us to ditch single use plastic and find local stores/businesses that will refill your water bottles for free.  Refill has an app where you can find your nearest refill station. To find out more and download the app go to https://refill.org.uk/

 

  • My gourmet Veggie Burger from The Roffey Griddle.  Every Thursday evening this small cafe opens its door to sell a range of gourmet burgers, including a decent veggie burger.  I am reliably informed that the meat burgers (sourced from a local butcher) are also very good. Well worth a try if you find yourself in Horsham.. Takeaways are also available  https://www.facebook.com/Roffeygriddle/

 

Monthly Loves - September - Gourmet Burger Evening

 

  • Home made veggie chilli – quick and easy to make and great for when the evening s are starting to get a bit nippy.

 

 

  • The Cafe, Bramley – found this little gem whilst  returning from a client meeting that over ran. The freshly made avocado and tomato baguette was an absolute lifesaver http://www.bramleycafe.com/  It also has a lovely garden for the warmer days.

IMG_0520
Hmm so September looks like it was a good food month.  Lets see what we can find in October!

Shop Local

I like to use my local shops.  I am lucky where I live as I have a small Co-Op, a Tesco Express and a One Stop all within a short walk of my house.  I like using these shops as you get to know the staff and members of my local community.

When I was married I would make the weekly trip to the local large supermarket. It was always stupidly busy and I would lose an hour of my life to doing the weekly shop.  People lost as the quarterly aisle reshuffle has taken place. Those more interested in their phones than watching where they are walking, or the food on the shelves. Those deep in conversation, seemingly unaware that they are blocking the aisles for those of us who just want to shop and go.

Moving out on my own gave me the chance to change this.  To explore my local shops more. To avoid taking the car out. Be kinder on the environment.

The problem with shipping local as a vegetarian is the lack of variety.  The supply of fruit and veg is fine, but some things I just don’t understand. All of the stores have a really good range of ‘free from’ gluten  free products. The variety of canned pulses is small, but then I wouldn’t expect it to be large. My biggest bug bear is gravy granules. None of my local shops stock vegetarian gravy granules.  Not even their own brand.

I once queried this with Tesco and Co-Op.  Tesco came back and said it was to do with waste – not enough people bought them.  The Co-Op gave me the impression it was a blip and would be sorted soon. Needless to say nothing has changed.  

I just find it hard to believe that with all this current trend towards cutting out meat, going veggie or vegan there is no demand for gravy granules locally.

I’m sure from the picture below you would agree that it wouldn’t take much effort to start with even one row of veggie friendly granules?

 

shop local
Apparently no room for vegetable gravy granules

Also if you don’t stock an item then there won’t be any demand for it.

You may well think I am bonkers at wondering at the lack of such an ingredient.  But for I don’t believe there is not a market for it. And the lack of it locally means I have to make a special trip to a larger supermarket on the otherside of town.  Not something that I find enjoyable or have the time for.

So this makes me wonder what other products are missing for vegetarians/vegans.  What do you wish these smaller stores would stock?

 

Self- Preservation

As someone who tries to walk to work as often as is practicable, my sense of self-preservation is quite well honed.  If I get the timing wrong then I have to protect my ankles from the fleet of scooters from children on the way to school, or their parents juggling scooters on the walk home.  

If I see a car coming towards me as I am crossing the road I tend to walk a bit quicker to make sure I make it to the other side safely.  Or decide not to cross the road at all.

However I am beginning to think that I have a rare skill as more and more these days I come across people putting themselves in danger.

I live in a quite a built up area – houses built before everyone had cars – so a lot of people parking their cars on the road.  This can cause minor amounts of congestion as cars try to pass. This is mostly avoidable if people had a bit more patience and used the road to its fullest extent.  

I also live between three schools.  During the school run I take my life in my hands as I try to leave my house.  As a pedestrian, or a driver, crossing the road outside my house can be tricky.  Although it is parked up, there are trees obscuring the view, and it is on a bus route, drivers insist on speeding.  Not driving at, or below the speed, limit in case of children crossing the road or people pulling out of drives. That would be sensible.  Some cars drive so fast that even when you have a clear view they appear as if from nowhere just as you are pulling out across the road. Some drivers, determined to get to their destination, drive so close to the parked cars that my neighbours and I frequently loose wing mirrors.  I expect if any of these drivers did have an accident they will spout on about how safely they drive. They rarely stop to to admit to the damage they have caused in their rush.

self-preservation

 

There are some points where the road bends, so you have little choice but to drive on the wrong side of the road to pass the parked cards.  It never ceases to amaze me that oncoming drivers seem unable to slow down for the obstacle in the way – even if it is the number 98 bus. Its as though they feel that you are on their side of the road and so you should get out of the way, and they should not have to do anything about it.  Drivers also seem to have a tendency to speed up when they see something in their way. Its as though they see the space in front of them as theirs and theirs alone.

Supermarket car parks are a good example of where self-preservation gives way to this feeling of owning the space around us.  If you watch car drivers in car parks you will see that they have very little patience for pedestrians. Almost as it is a surprise that people are walking across car parks. How dare they! Why can’t they walk somewhere else?  

The car drivers, park,  get out of the car and turn into pedestrians.  Taking the shortest route to the store, avoiding squeezing between parked cars to get the designated footpaths.  Loosing awareness of the cars moving around them. Crossing oncoming traffic and wondering why the driver inside has not seen them. And thinking these drivers are rude and inconsiderate.  Five minutes before they were the drivers wondering why the pedestrians are not taking more care of themselves.

Why does getting behind the wheel of a car take away our ability to be responsible for our actions?  Why do we feel the need to claim the road, to speed up when something is in the way? We don’t own the road.  The Highway Code does give driver the right of way in certain circumstances, however when does common sense kick in?  All drivers have been in the situation where being across the middle of the road has occurred when they as far as they can see the road ahead is clear.   Driving at speed towards an object or person in front of you sounds like madness. But so many drivers do it. Why do we punish each other by insisting on being aggressive when all we need to do is slow down and take control of the situation?  This has to be better from a car insurance perspective?

Why do we stop thinking about traffic when we are pedestrians?  It is easy to drive fast but a lot more concentration is needed to drive within the limits of the highway and the other road users around us.

When will our need for self-preservation kick in?

Long Time Veggie

Time.  It can be one of those things you lose track of – especially over many years.

I joined the Vegetarian Society in my mid twenties.  Each quarter since then I have looked forward to the magazine arriving with news, reviews and great articles.  All helping me find my way as a lone veggie in the world, and giving me inspiration of recipes to try.

There is a section in the magazine where they look back at vegetarian news of the past., which I always find interesting. It helps me understand the history of vegetarianism and the changes in society and trends in food.  

Time

I settled down to read the latest edition and was soon engrossed. I was reading about the latest tutors to join the cookery school when it suddenly struck me how long I had been a vegetarian for.  The overview of these tutors clearly stated how long they have been vegetarian. Most of them were at the thirty year mark.

Oh so about the same time as me then.  

 

This felt a bit weird.  I don’t know that many other vegetarians.  The ones I do know have only ‘recently’ become vegetarian and only one of them is close to the twenty year mark. One of my colleagues at work asked me the other day how long I have been vegetarian. When I told her she seemed surprised. She didn’t think people could have been vegetarian that long.

As much as I love getting the magazine and have the resources that the Vegetarian Society provides, I am no longer that ‘new’ vegetarian looking for answers that I feel like each time it arrives.  Time has both moved on and stood still. I am becoming one of the older generation. I have the experience and knowledge. I have seen the changes in vegetarian food fads (please no more halloumi!).  Should I be sharing this knowledge more?

Perhaps this blog is how I am doing that.

 

The Vegetarian Society

 

 

 

 

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