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Hooray for food gifts, vegan enablers, and coconut bacon

I was going to call this post something about the kindness of strangers, until I worked out most people involved weren't actually strangers to me. So, I guess, it's just a post about the kindness of vegans and vegan-enablers!

I recently made a new friend - seems odd talking about making friends when you're beyond your teenage years, right? - through school. She invited me and another classmate over for lunch, and lunch turned out to be an enormous South Indian feast - poppadoms and chutneys, loads of veggie dishes, rice, something exciting involving tapioca, and halwa for dessert. Not once did she utter the dreaded 'you don't even miss the meat, do you?' or comment on how difficult eating out as a vegan must be - she just served up an entirely vegan meal to a mix of meat eaters, veggies, and vegans that tasted amazing.

As if I needed another reason to like my new friend even more, she even packed me off with a carrier bag full of her homegrown chard, chasing me down in the rain after I'd left to put it into my hands. 

It made it into three separate meals - as chipotle chard with a Mexican scramble and guac, in a Korean stir fry type thing, and as an attempt to make a quiche with butter beans. It didn't look pretty, but it sure sure tasty.

More food-related gifts came via my other half's mother, who's a lovely woman. When we went to see her recently, she me a present of a sprouter she'd picked up in a charity shop, which I was overjoyed with. I'd been wanting to get one for ages but had been put off by the price. Knowing this one came from a charity shop was great - my partner's mum didn't pay too much, gave me a present I really liked, kept something out of landfill, and gave some money to a charity to boot. Got to love charity shops, right?

I had to get some stuff started as soon as I got home: first off, some alfalfa, which made it into some sandwiches...

And some adzuki beans that have been gracing my salads ever since.

I know it's possible to sprout stuff without needing a sprouter, using a jam jar and some muslin, but my previous attempts have been somewhat unsuccessful, ending in slimy sprout goo. Using a proper sprouter, my kitchen is now turning out sprouted goodies by the jarful, all with food centimeters rather than food miles!

I don't know about you, but my life is sadly vegan free. The only real life vegan I know is hours away on the train, but I never feel cut off from the vegan community, if that's the right term, due to the wonderful world of the internet.

I get so many great ideas for recipes, recommendations on where to eat, vegan product news, cute animal pictures, and big belly laughs from reading lots of vegan blogs and hearing what the bloggers behind them have to say.

This week, I have to give a great big thanks in particular to Tea and Sympatico, a blog which reminds me why I need to get to Manchester more often. After I posted about having trouble with my oven, she only went and solved the problem for me! She spotted what was going wrong with a bit of Googling (we'd just assumed it would be dodgy wiring that we couldn't afford to repair and ignored the problem for weeks) and now, with a £13 new oven element in place, we have a fully working oven again.

Tea and Sympatico, thank you so much for your help!

With the oven back up to speed, I turned to a recipe I'd had my eye on for a while - coconut bacon from Green Gourmet Giraffe. I baked mine, rather than frying it, and think I left it in for a little too long.

That said, it still tasted AMAZING! I love burnt flavours, so I think the slight extra char on the bacon went really nicely with its smoky taste.

I put it to work in what may be the best bagel sandwich I've eaten in the last couple of weeks: jalapeno hummus, coconut bacon, a potato waffle, tomato and cucumber. It may sound wonky, but trust me, it was phenomenal.

Not everyone was so impressed with my bagel creation - my partner looked askance at me, and asked if was pregnant. (Answer, nope, it's just a food baby!)

My kitchen further paid out this week when I unearthed a brownie from Boho Gelato, a Brighton ice cream shop that always has amazing vegan flavours, that I had stashed in the freezer a while back. Despite its spell in the deep freeze, it was still delicious, with a strong, sharp raspberry flavour - an Isa recipe maybe? Either way, it quickly met its demise with some ice cream.

Since I went vegan, I don't think I've ever eaten so healthily (no, I don't just eat brownies all day!), so tastily, or with so many kind inputs from friends, family and internet helpers. I can't help but be happy I made the change when I did - for all you vegans and vegan enablers, thank you once again!

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  1. What a great friend - making you a beautiful meal and then chasing you down with chard. And what a relief that none of the dinner felt like a "burden" to her or any of the guests. Such a welcome feeling!

    That's awesome that Tea & Sympatico was able to figure out your oven issue with such an inexpensive fix. I need to put my problems out to the internet for solving!

  2. Such a beautiful post! I sometimes take for granted how lucky I am to know so many vegans IRL, but the online community is a huge help no matter what. A co-worker recently said to me, "It's funny that you're so into food considering you're vegan." WHAT!? He obviously doesn't know much about vegans AND I'm pretty sure he doesn't realize that the variety of foods I eat probably outnumber his by a mile. At least there are so many people for us to teach and share with!

    PS a potato waffle? Wow!

  3. Hooray for vegan enblers! Having good, kind and supportive friends makes such a difference.

  4. How wonderful that your new friend was able to cook such an outstanding meal without stressing on the 'vegan' aspect. I have a friend who said she really wants to have me come for dinner but she doesn't know how to cook anything vegan. Sigh. And the sprouter! How nice of your partner's mother to keep you in mind when she's out and about thrifting. And how great that your blog connections have lead to a fixed oven. The Universe must be paying you back for all the kindnesses you have shared with others.

  5. WHAT is a potato waffle??? I want one.

    Vegan enablers are the best. This community has given me support, love, forever friends, work, and so much more <3

  6. Wow, that friend of yours is certainly a keeper... How kind and thoughtful! It's so much more fun being vegan when you have supportive enablers on your side. :)

  7. Hooray for a working oven! And hooray for vegan enabling new friends. I find making new friendships very refreshing. While I love my friends that I've known since I was a teenager or college student - most of them have "categorized" me as the person I once was. As an adult, people don't put me in the same "category".

  8. Aw, I'm so pleased that the oven was easy to fix! That's great. Maybe you could use the savings on some vegan treats ;) I had another of those VX creamcakes today. Matt went to a work conference in London yesterday and amazingly they had ordered a load so he brought one home for me. We're in temporary accomodation for a few more weeks with a rubbish oven and all my kitchen stuff in storage. I can't wait to get moved and start sprouting again. Must make some more coconut bacon too, amazing stuff.

  9. This is all so great, especially the making new friends part, post-school. It is difficult at times but new great people are so nice to have in yr life.
    A sprouter sounds like fun. I've tried the jar/muslin way before to the same results - slimy spoiled legumes! The alfalfa is so cute.
    And most importantly, congratulations on the working oven. That's a biggie.

  10. So pleased you enjoyed the coconut bacon - I agree that a bit of char is always a good thing on facon. I would be happy to share that bagel (though the jalapeno might be a little spicy for me) - potato waffle and coconut bacon sounds a great combination.

    I am not vegan but I think I was lucky when I first went vegetarian many years ago because I got to know a lovely woman who was vegan and due to her I think got into with vegan cooking. But the web is an amazing place to hook up with people who love to cook good food and understand different diets.

    The chard looks really beautiful and fresh in your photo - and I love that your friend ran after you in the rain to make sure you had some - she sounds great

  11. What an awesome dinner! I've been to too many where I got the feeling the host was a little put out making something vegan for me. Coconut bacon is the best! especially on a bagel.

  12. What a lovely post, I’m so happy you made a new friend, and yes, I know what you mean by making friends beyond your teen years or thru school. It’s always nice to have someone by your side and share lovely vegan meals with! And what, an enormous Indian feast?! I want your friend’s contact (jk). And halwa for dessert?! How lovely of her to send you her homegrown chard…I live in a tiny city in the U.S., and I don’t know anyone in the city and there’s this lovely woman who sends me lovely vegan things! These adzuki beans (sprouted) look gorgeous, I love them in sweet pastries and in many Chinese desserts! I’m happy your oven is now working, kudos to Tea & Sympatico! These baked coconut bacon look so yummy, and my partner loves burnt flavors, haha.


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