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What I ate recently - the readymade and the homemade

Every so often when I was studying, I'd stop and snap a picture of my dinner, and think about posting it. Then I'd go back to looking at livers or immunology or whatever it was, and forget the picture.

So now, here I am, free of exams and ready to share the inner workings of my little kitchen with you.

Here's the most studenty thing I could think of: packet noodles with veggies. Those noodles? 35p from a supermarket near you. Back when I was doing my first degree, those noodles would have been a complete meal - no fear of a carb only diet there. Now I'm a great deal older and a committed veghead, I had to chuck in some veggies to make it a bit healthier. So, that's 35p crappy noodles and organic, box-scheme veggies. It's a bit of a food culture high-low clash, but it worked!

Here's something kind of fun I discovered in a grocery shop in Brighton: organic vegan taramasalata. I love that someone out there decided that what the world needed was a vegan version of a fish-egg dip!

Despite having all sorts of ingredients that I like - sunflower seeds, lemon juice, seaweed - I wasn't a huge fan. There was a faintly acrid tang to it I didn't like, but Mr Flicking the Vs had no such qualms and gleefully shovelled the lot down his neck. Mr FtVs was an avowed fish dodger even in his pregan days, so I'm pretty sure this wasn't much in the way of a faithful recreation of tarama. Still, as I say, I'm glad that there are people out in the world making interesting vegan food.

It wasn't all readymade goodies over the last couple of weeks though - I did venture into the kitchen occasionally. One of things I managed to rustle up was big batch of split pea soup, using a vintage bag of split peas from my cupboard. I say vintage, I mean old enough to be drawing its pension.

What I liked most about making split pea soup was that it's a one pot meal (yay to minimal washing up!). And if you're a lazy sod, or you had three weeks to memorise everything you could about the human body (yep, that's me), you can just chuck everything into one pot, leave to simmer for half an hour or so, and forget about for the duration. 

I didn't bother sweating the onions or garlic, like I normally would: I just cut up onions, garlic, celery, and carrots, hauled it all into a pan of bubbling stock, and let the magic happen. Minimal effort, maximum soup reward.

And what do you need to go with your soup? Bread of course!

What sort of bread do you need when you can't spend too much time baking? Soda bread. It's quick, it's tasty, and it looks like an alien's poop. You can't ask for more from a loaf. I use this recipe from The Telegraph, with butter for vegan spread and dairy free milk. It hasn't failed me yet.

The thing that people always tell you about soda bread is that it doesn't last that long, and it goes a bit wonky after a day or so. I want to know how these people have a loaf of soda bread hanging around that amount of time. These are not long-term fixtures in my house. One of these, a knife, some vegan butter and I'm a happy bunny.

Here's another little snackette I discovered in Planet Organic not so long. It's a vegan sausage roll by Clive's Pies, who make a lot of vegan and gluten free stuff. For some reason, I'd not given them a try before, but decided to pick up a sausage roll, because who doesn't love sausage in pastry.

I don't think is was one of my favourite sausage rolls, alas (I think I'd give that award to Holland and Barrett's, though Linda McCartney's aren't a pretty solid job too). The packet listed the ingredients as containing 'spices', but I think that should say 'a metric truckload of cumin'. And the pastry was a bit wonky. I'm loathe to do down a sausage roll entirely, so it's not bad in a pinch, but there are better out there.

Something I've been loving a lot more: Sojade yoghurt.

I'm not a huge fan of yoghurt, but Sojade has totally won me over. It's a French company I think, and all it's soya is grown in the country, so next time some omni starts banging on about how soya is killing the rainforest or some such, slap some Sojade in their hands and remind them that the vast majority of rainforest-grown soya ends up going to feed cattle for the meat trade. If your powerful arguments don't get them to ditch dairy, then a pot of Sojade should help change their minds.

There's a good variety of yoghurt flavours in Sojade's range, but I have a strong crush on the banana flavour and have been eating it like a woman whose gullet is due to close with the next full moon. Sojade, I salute your work.

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  1. I love your descriptive of vintage. I have been quite good with stuff in my cupboards recently - but I do have a big stash of red lentils and some spices that I would def. say are vintage. I do love soda bread, agree it not the most handsome to look at. Hope you have a good weekend.

  2. Interesting to see the types of ready made food you got over there. Of course, nothing beats homemade like that soda bread and soup. :-)

  3. ha ha, I also never used to add veggies to my ramen and now I do too. I really love one pot meals like your split pea soup -- especially when you're pressed for time. I also really love finally using up things that have been in the pantry forever. I used up some lentils a few weeks ago that had been in my cupboards for an embarassingly long time. Also, I am covetous of your banana soy yogurt. I wish we had that here!

  4. You know, those ramen noodles bowls are still good every once in a while. But yes, always nice to throw in a few fresh vegetables.
    I haven't been cooking at ALL really, but that split pea soup with some soda bread sounds fantastic and easy too.
    Congrats on finishing up yr schooling!

  5. It's been too long since I had soda bread - such good and quick bread - but we are eating sausage rolls all day and loving them. I also have split peas to be used - I hope they look as good as yours. And was that dip really that purple - it looks odd but then I don't think I have ever eaten taram salata

  6. I feel like I'm the odd one out with Sojade - it was recommended to me by lots of people when we moved to the UK but while I like it, I don't really get what the fuss is about! I'm glad it has converted you to yoghurt though as I do love that more generally. And, I can't believe you baked bread of any variety mid-exams!!

  7. Well I'm glad to hear you survived the exams and are able to cook and eat without that hanging over your head — at least for a while. It's always interesting to see the foods you find in England — some of which I've never heard of, like taramasalata. Yikes, what is that? All dried peas at our house are vintage, since I rarely use them. I can never seem to get them to cook all the way.

  8. Hooray! Glad to know your school term is over, and you can now enjoy the summer!

    I love soda bread, and it wouldn't last long in my house either!

  9. I always add veggies to my ramen these days too, I'm all about the pak choi and mushrooms. I'm pretty excited to try that taramasalata, I was always into that stuff when I was younger.


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