Any way, after banging on how about much I love homemade stuff now, I got all excited when I saw some vegan convenience food. Forgive me, friends, but you know what it's like, you're at your local healthfood store, you see a tin of tempeh curry and you think, 'wow, cool, I bet that tastes grim, but I'll give it a go in case'.
Can you guess what it tasted like? Yeah, it was a bit grim. I mean, for tinned stuff, it wasn't half bad - there was a lot of nice Thai flavours in there, but you know that weird whiff that you get off tempeh if you don't boil the living bejebus out of it first? There was a lot of that.
To get around the problem, I poured Sriacha onto it until I couldn't taste that dusty tang. To be honest, I poured it on until I couldn't feel my lips, but the effect was the same - I could finish the whole lot. I can't say I enjoyed it though.
Here's how it looked, peppers and okra model's own:
Slightly more successful was a cucumber and tomato salad based on a recipe from Sally Butcher's excellent Veggiestan (there's a full review here, but the short summary is: this is great, I wish it was vegan not just veggie).
I grant you cucumber and tomato salad doesn't sound really exciting - in fact it sounds like the worst kind of English salad, popular up to the 1990s and used to come with feeble, sagging iceberg lettuce. Luckily, as it's a Veggiestan salad, it's far more lively, and there's all sorts of bright tastes in there - coriander and chilli among them.
I served it up with some quesadillas, which was in no way authentic or appropriate, but darn tasty. Incidentally, what's the vegan for quesadillas? Cashewdillas?
I recently signed up to vegan box scheme, The Vegan Kind, and I got my first box the other week. It kind of surprised me - I was expecting basically a big box of all sorts of sweets, but there was all manner of cool stuff in there, including the surprising addition of washing powder. (Not surprising that people would make vegan washing powder, surprising that it would be in the box.)
A similarly interesting inclusion was this bag of Nothing But, a vegetable based snack of freeze dried pepper strips and mange tout. The freeze-drying not only makes it nice and crisp, so it counters my deep and abiding craving for deep-fried maize-based foodstuffs, it also concentrates the flavours, so it's the most peppery pepper and the most mange touty mange tout out there.
Given the theme of this post is turning into the unexpected, here's another random dish that found its way to my table: hearts of palm pies.
I discovered the recipe, torn out of a magazine, in my kitchen recipe stash and decided to bite the bullet. Alas, I can't remember where the recipe came from originally, so I can't point you to it but if you google 'torta de palmito' you should find some similar recipes.
As the name up there hints, it's a Brazilian recipe - hearts of palm, fried onions, and tomatoes (fresh and dried in my case) wrapped up white sauce and encased in some puff pastry.
I made little mini versions in cupcake cases, but I bet a great big pie would be a winner too.
Here's a quick peek inside, though it doesn't really do it justice:
My last unexpected vegan treat came from my other half, who'd just returned from Berlin. I've not been there for a long time, but it's meant to be one of the most vegan friendly cities in Europe.
During Mr Flicking the Vs soujourn, I asked him to stop by all-vegan supermarket Veganz and have a nosey around. He reported being a bit underwhelmed, saying you get more interesting vegan stuff in a Trader Joe's. He may be right, but I can't help but feeling there's something quite pleasing about going into a supermarket that sells nothing but plant-based wonder. There have been rumours for some time that a Veganz is coming to London, so fingers crossed I can go check it out for myself!
In the meantime, Mr Flicking the Vs brought me back some treats from Veganz - two packets of fruit leather and some Earl Grey rooibos tea. I've never really gone overboard for fruit leather, but the strawberry and raspberry version were really good, and I love the brand name, which translates as something like 'Devil's Work and Angel's Task'.
But the star was that tea. I drink a lot of tea, and had to switch to rooibos to cut back on caffeine. Giving it an Earl Grey spin meant that I got all the flavour of a good brew, but didn't have to worry about the sleep patterns. Result! Now I just have to work out where to get it in England...