Recipe Books for Veggies


This is going to be a cross-over post!  It’s about books but the subject is generalised, so I’ve put it here.

I just spent several minutes writing a review of a very disappointing book that I thought was about food and cooking it.  You know the kind of book – I think they’re called recipe books.  This one was nothing but an exercise in yet more lecturing on what I should be eating – never mind what I want to eat!  Here we find a surfeit of information thrust at us, about Organic food and GM food and a bunch of other books that might, I guess, actually contain some recipes (each volume needing to be purchased to supplement this free tome).  Okay, so there’s then a fairly in-depth analysis of 81 foodstuffs – oh, sorry, that should be Superfoods!  Yes, indeed. In-depth.  But hold on a minute!  I don’t actually want any such detail.  All I want is a reasonable notion of what’s good with what and what’s not.  This smacks of sitting with your meal set before you, with each item on your plate carrying a little flag stuck into it with full nutritional information on it!  To be blunt:  I don’t care!  Seriously.  I’ve been Veggie for over 40 years.  That’s more years than some of these people have lived for.

Now let me address the question of actual Veggie recipe books.  They are simply stuffed full of every possible concoction that excludes meat, though hang on a minute!  Some are clearly not Veggie because they contain fish, poultry, seafood and various other dead animals.  Now, when I became a Veggie, it was to stop eating dead animals.  But some of these books are ‘Fad Veggie’ offerings.  They aren’t Veggie at all, they’re books that contain recipes which exclude certain foodstuffs.  That’s all.

Do you know what I’d really like to see?  A Veggie recipe book that’s genuinely Veggie and caters for all tastes.  For every recipe containing some ‘sophisticated’ foodstuff, there should be a good, plain recipe with basic staples.  Down through the decades, I’ve been told to expand my choices by embracing food items that have become very popular with Veggies and Vegans.  To be fair, I’ve tried some of them.  After being made to feel absolutely wretched as a result, I’m informed that they are ‘an acquired taste’.  So, I should persist with eating something I detest until I get used to the taste?  Why?  Some have absolutely vile textures, some it’s the taste.  Why would I abandon the foodstuffs I like for these?  And why can’t I ask for recipes that use good old things like potatoes, cheese, baked beans, canned tomatoes, canned peas, and so on?  Why must I accept sweet potatoes and aubergines (apparently the two Veggie staple ingredients) and a host of vegetables and fruits I can’t even pronounce the names of?  Why do I have to have exotic meals?  And why-oh-why does virtually every other recipe have to include some kind of pasta?  Potatoes are a great staple carbohydrate-based food.  They’re also very adaptable.  Even rice is a great staple.  Then there are pies and puddings.  If I wanted principally Italian cuisine, surely I’d look for it?  (Yes, I know other nations had pasta variants, such as some kinds of Oriental noodles.)  I can’t help but feel that writers of recipe books are just interested in repeating the same recipes, maybe adding a customising dash of something.  Where’s the tradition, or the invention?  What was wrong with that big, steaming pudding crammed with goodness that our forebears enjoyed with great relish?

Here, I deviate just a little.  Our food is being constantly adjusted to make it ‘healthy’.  Things are taken out, others are added, to stop us poisoning our bodies.  This is good, that’s bad.  Until tomorrow when that’s reversed.  Food like bread and canned items last for far less time, and are less pleasant to eat.  Why?  Because the very things that acted to keep them good to eat have been removed!  For instance, salt is removed at every opportunity – and we wonder when people suffer cramp –  so special, expensive drinks are made to help – drinks full of magical ‘electrolytes’, i.e. salts and sugar.  And sugar, which is converted by our bodies into glucose, is something that must, at all costs, be avoided – except that’s most powerfully enforced against children, despite the fact that the brain (a rather useful part of the body) needs glucose to stay healthy and effective!  So what do we do?  Why, we seek a ‘brain food’ and decide on things like fish oils, especially Omega 3.  Of course, it makes everything smell and taste of fish, but that’s a small price to pay, surely?  Assuming, of course, that it feeds the brain in exactly the same way as glucose does.  Given the wealth of information the experts have gathered on food, and the vast number of dangers associated with eating, it’s amazing that the Human Race even exists!  It is truly staggering that we didn’t eat ourselves into extinction.

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Imagine it, if you will:  “We can prove, statistically, that the humble olive was the indisputable cause of the downfall of the ancient Etruscans, who had made it a vital part of their diet.   What?  Well, yes, others have done the same, but there are doubtless unknown factors involved which negate the toxic properties of the olive.  No, we don’t accept the research by XYZ Inc.  Their research is definitely suspect, being based on purely chemical tests without any reference to strict statistical analyses.  Sample sizes?  Oh, yes, well our average sample size is some 1500 sets of Etruscan remains.  Pardon?  Of course we didn’t survey living Etruscans!  There are none.  That’s the whole point.  Well, yes, we did hear that the Government are backing the olive producers and suggesting that our research is questionable.  However, a strict statistical analysis of members of the Government reveals that they have a vested interest in the olive industry, with numerous relatives working directly or indirectly for that industry……” [18 months later…]  “The recent acquisition of FStatView by XYZ Inc has opened previously sealed files to public scrutiny.  It is now known that the ‘Olive Issue’ report, which has seen olive production reduced to just a few dozen plantations worldwide, was fatally flawed and that certain funding grants from General RapeSeed Pty reveal a bias against the olive, especially the oil produced from it.  It is the view of analysts within XYZ Inc that it will require enormous investment in land and planting to begin to put right what XYZ asserted from the beginning – that the olive is both desirable as a food item and actually necessary for the health of all citizens.  Many thousands of ancient plantations were lost in the aftermath of governmental decrees against the growing of olives.  Now, we would like to call your attention to our most recent research findings, demonstrating that rice is one of the greatest threats to public health ever known…”

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Eating? That’s A Joke!


Summer, Summer, Wherefore Art Thou Summer?

I know I have a habit of falling asleep at odd times, mainly through either medications taken or excessive pain levels, but did I miss something?  I thought this was June?  You know, that very nice month that blazes into Summer.  Instead, the skies have been grey for ages, the maximum temperature each day is a bad joke, and there’s strong winds and/or rain many days.  I’m pretty sure that’s not what the script for the seasons of the year says.  or have we got a new script writer?  Perhaps it’s in the hands of the writers of a certain BBC soap opera notorious for depressing its actors even faster than it does its viewers!  I demand a return to the correct seasonal weather, with immediate effect.  If this doesn’t happen (Government espionage systems take note) we’ll have to place the blame on the Government and have a revolution!

Seeking Inspiration: Recipes?

There comes a time in everybody’s life when endless repetitions of the same basic meals becomes just a little tedious.  Now, I’m talking as somebody who eats because it’s kind of necessary to continued living.  There are very few foods that make me enthusiastic about eating.  Most of those are desserts, especially certain fruit based ones.  At the moment, I’ve even reached a point where I’m struggling to be interested in sandwiches, let alone full meals!  I just can’t think of anything appetising, and that leads to more waste.  I mean, i have a small appetite at best, so there’s usually something left.  When I’m as I am right now, the leftovers quantity can more than double.  Considering that I’m still trying to regain weight lost, this is not a happy situation.

Now, let me detail the stumbling blocks to creating meals for me.  I am an extremely ‘picky’ eater.  I’m a vegetarian – who doesn’t like the majority of vegetables!  Quorn™ is pure poison to me, especially if eaten in any significant quantity.  Tofu is an unbearably obnoxious chewy, glutinous lump that takes on flavouring less fast than a lump of rock!  I can take good quality TVP (textured vegetable protein), as long as it hasn’t been turned into something like chilli or other highly spiced food.  Garlic and olive oil will lay me out for at least a week, in agony!  I can tolerate only the minute traces of garlic found in things like brown table sauce.  I can take eggs, cheese, dairy in general.  Note that when I say that I’m a vegetarian that means I don’t eat red meat, white meat, poultry, game, fish, seafood, or the extracts and by-products of these.  Oh yes, and I can eat small amounts of nuts but things like ‘nutloaf’ are inviting disaster.  I have an acute sense of taste, so things need to genuinely taste good.  So-called ‘acquired tastes’ are out!  They’re just unpleasantly flavoured things that you can get used to sufficiently to tolerate the flavour.

What do I eat?  Cheese & onion dishes, like quiche, ‘rolls’, ‘pasties’ and similar.  Egg dishes – fried egg, cheese omelette (never plan!) and cheesy scrambled egg (again, never plain!) – very rarely poached or boiled egg.  Lots of different potato dishes, including adding potato to the recipes for things like cheese & onion ‘roll’ and ‘pasties’, cheese & potato pie (preferably baked), and such.  Chips (’fries’ over there in the USA) and sauté potatoes.  Mashed, boiled or (infrequently) baked potato.  Fried smashed-up boiled/mashed potato- sometimes with additions.  Baked beans (especially refried so they go really sticky) and peas (garden or marrowfat but not ‘mushy’).  Fried chopped tinned tomatoes (especially with brown table sauce added – fairly liberally).  On odd occasions, tinned spaghetti in tomato sauce (hoops but straight might do).  Golden vegetable rice, but not other forms of rice (milk rice pudding as an extreme rarity, for dessert).  Macaroni cheese (or macaroni pudding for dessert, made with evaporated milk).

The vast majority of vegetarian ‘ready meals’ and pre-made products are, to me, vile.  I never touch them unless forced to do so.  For example, I’d rather have homemade Veggie sausages made using the proprietary sausage mixes than the pre-made sausages that become iron on the outside, have inedible ends and are often either too spicy or just taste foul.  In fact, I like fairly ‘plain’ food, English food!  I don’t take well to exotic dishes, including things like curry or stir-fry.

Over the years, I’ve created a few recipes for myself, but some of those were based on a time when I had a larger appetite and our kids were still at home and happy to have the same things, from time to time.  While Jenny may enjoy some Veggie dishes, that’s not often enough to make the larger quantity recipes worthwhile.  Unfortunately, by the nature of how some of the constituents involved, making scaled down versions is virtually impossible.  So I’ve been trying to concoct some new recipes.  The problem is: I’m rapidly running out of ideas for things I can feel confident about liking…

Challenging, or what?