In My Kitchen

The people whose blogs I love reading are not those with the fanciest recipes or the most artful ingredients, they're the people whose posts I love to read - be they funny or thought-provoking or just plain interesting. It's the words, not the photos, that keeps me coming back and back to certain blogs.

That's why I love In My Kitchen blogposts - you get to take a look at the bits and pieces of people's cooking lives, what they're thinking about, what they're using up because there's a bit too much in the fridge, something new they've discovered, or the old favourite they're cooking.

Here's my tiny contribution to the world of In My Kitchen! I've got exams coming up (that's the thing about studying medicine - you always have exams coming up!) The fact that I've been able to put together this wee post is entirely down to the fact that I've just finished my Easter holidays, two glorious weeks off! Admittedly, the entirety of those two glorious weeks off was spent either studying for the upcoming exams, or working to pay next year's university fees.

Still, I did manage to snatch a bit of time to spend in the kitchen.

I saw mention of cauliflower buffalo wings somewhere, using chickpea flour to make the batter. I don't think I've quite perfected the technique, but they did make a good topper for a salad, with ample sriracha!

Can you see the asparagus peeking out there? Yep, that's some English asparagus newly in season, and quickly on my plate. If I had to pick one vegetable to save from the apocalypse, and only one, it would be asparagus. I'm not sure in what scenario I'd need to make that decision, but no harm in being prepared, I'd say.

As we're coming up to the end of the school year (not quickly enough, IMHO) I'm getting a bit weary of sandwiches. I'm not a massive lover of sandwiches to begin with, but after a whole year of eating damp lettuce and sweaty bread in the brief break between lectures, I'm even less of a fan.

I've been trying to cheer them up a bit with the addition of coconut bacon, something I learned from Green Gourmet Giraffe, and for which I will always be grateful!

My kitchen has also been a place of discovering new vegan convenience foods of late, including Cosi Bio vegan slices and Le Ricette Vegane di Erik pasta.

I don't know who Erik is, but if I ever meet him, I'll be shaking him warmly by the hand, and congratulating him for his cracking pasta making skills. I think I picked these up in a branch of As Nature Intended - it looks like Erik has many flavours of vegan pasta, but only this flavour was on offer near me. I hope As Nature Intended starts punting out more varieties, as I'll be beating a path to their door if they do.

The Cosi Bio slices I tried were fine. I liked the fact that the back part of the the packaging is recyclable paper, but I don't like the fact that Cosi Bio makes meat salami in almost identical packaging (and it looks weirdly identical to the vegan stuff!) so I almost ended up buying some flesh before I realised my mistake. Shudder.

Anyway, the vegan salami (phew!) I bought was fine. it's nice to have something on hand I can make a sandwich with without any effort. I liked the soy and pepperoni enough to try the lemon, chickpea, and tumeric version. Only it wasn't so nice. The lemon taste made me think of lemon washing up liquid and I really struggled to get it all down. I ended up finishing the rest of the pack in toast sandwiches with tomato, avocado, and enough sriracha to drown the soapy taste.

Something I found a lot easier to get stuck into: Creative Nature brownie mix. I won a couple of vegan baking mixes a while ago, and I guess I was saving them for a special occasion or a day when I needed cake and was categorically unable to lift a finger to make some.

Neither day ever came - I can always get motivated enough to make cake, and I never found an occasion dubbed - so I just dug the mix out of the cupboard and got to work. Being not too far away from the end of Easter, my flat had an obscene amount of chocolate on hand The Creative Nature mix helpfully has vegan instructions (yay!) alongside non-vegan ones (boo!) on the back of the packet, and recommended adding 100g of chocolate to the mix for extra richness. I did as I was bid, and put that melted chocolate right on in there.

I was pleasantly surprised by the result. If you're looking for a brownie (not unreasonable given the name of the baking mix), you might be disappointed - there's no squidgy middle and crispy top. What there is is a very nice, very dense and moist chocolate cake. Mr Flicking the Vs, not known for his desert consumption, helped himself to two, which is high praise indeed.

I've also been really thankful for this little fella in my kitchen of late:

Why all the citrus love? Well, maybe it looks like an orange to you, but to me it's a surgical aid.

At school recently, we were scheduled to do a suturing class - that is, trying to learn the skills we'll need to one day be able to stitch people up. I've tried my hand at it before, using a suturing needle and thread, and a reusable block of flesh-coloured rubber to stand in for the patient.

So when I saw the suturing class in the calendar, I was pretty sure I'd be revisiting that bit of beaten up block of rubber, despite some of the other students saying they'd heard rumours we'd be practicing on meat. Meat? Surely not, I said to myself. Rubber's reusable, and not gross, and there's got to be loads of people that don't want to handle meat for religious or ethical reasons.

When I rocked up at the physiology lab, I was confronted by rows upon rows of bits of chicken, along with suturing needles. Any non-meat options, I inquired, politely. Nope, I was told, not all your patients will be vegetarians (no, I don't get the logic there either), but I was free to sit out the lesson. I pointed out I had no problem with sewing up people, because they're normally able to consent - they understand what the options are, they can refuse treatment if they want, or accept it if they're happy to. Those chickens? Not so much.

Then I was told that maybe, maybe a bit of fruit could be used instead. Maybe I could try a banana, or an orange, if there was one? There was. I was able to suture up a 'wound' in the orange skin a treat, and left it the orange there for the next vegan student who came along. Everyday's a school day, just not always in the way you expect.

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  1. Glad you are still enjoying coconut bacon - it is so good esp for a snack or sandwich - I get a bit tired of sandwiches too but never say no to a CLT. I used to have this sort of luncheon meat as a kid but never found anything like it as a vegetarian (though I suspect this is partly because I probably wouldn't even like the meat version these days. But I would give the Cosi Bio a go. And am glad you were able to think laterally for the suturing. (Isn't it interesting that meat can be presented to med students as something to "save" at the same time as it is also something to eat.)

  2. I was also recommended to try bananas for suturing, but I never bothered. I was told that pig trotters (the non-vegan option) aren't all that realistic because they're too tough! The best learning for suturing turned out to be in the operating theatre anyway.

  3. The logic of non-vegetarian patients making it ok for you to practice sewing up chickens is lost on me too! How bizarre. An orange sounds far better. I love the look of that tortellini too, and the peak into your kitchen more generally. It's impressive for someone so short on time and heavy on exams!

  4. Joey I do love your writing style and the humour your inject into subjects that are quite serious.

    There are not many blogs I read these days, too many are PR orientated with adverts smacking my face left right and centre - only a few old school blogs now that I read now loyally. So agree Johanna's coconut bacon is fantastic stuff. I love it to as a snack or facon bread butty (very Welsh) I have been a hit and miss with the cauliflower buffalo wings too, but they taste good.
    I don't get the comment (not all your patients will be veg.) , I guess it was a dig and sarcasm rather than a understanding and insightful response. I probably would have had to bite my lip, but gosh my eyes would have rolled - your a star.

  5. The coconut bacon looks so good I think I'll have to search out the recipe. As for sewing up chickens, ewww. I doubt your future patients will request doctors who have only sewed chickens or only sewed oranges, depending on their dietary preferences. Good for you for standing up for what you believe.

  6. I've been meaning to try cauliflower buffalo bites, they look great as a salad topper with sriracha no less. Coconut bacon makes everything better. So awesome you stood up for yourself! Who knows maybe you would have only vegan and vegetarian patients. :-) Doesn't excuse the comment though.

  7. Oooh, the cauliflower looks amazing! I've never managed to get mine sufficiently crispy on the outside.

    Great logic from your teacher regarding vegetarian patients. What point were they trying to make?!

  8. I remember your love of asparagus from previous years:) Well done on the orange. I can't believe they hadn't thought of providing a non- meat alternative. I'm sure you won't have been the first person not to want to use meat??? Interesting to know about the Creative Nature mixes. Their bars are in my top five bars.

  9. I love coconut bacon and I'm definitely going to be searching for that tortellini when I get back to the UK, it looks delicious. I also love that you practiced on an orange - I hope that the next veg person gets to do the same!

  10. Interesting story about the orange...I'm glad they let you use it and that you were able to provide that for the next vegan student who came along! Hopefully they'll start offering more oranges up for practice and replace the chickens with them... Surely as well as being more ethical, it would also be a lot cheaper for them to buy a whole loads of oranges and let students practice on them?

  11. Yeah, the logic makes no sense sometimes. I love posts like this too :). It's a nice break from recipes, and I've been wanting to do one for a while. Now I'm just extra inspired :)


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