I have some stuff to write, so this is where I’m gonna put it.
Also, quite a while ago I kept a log when I was on board of a tall ship and some of that got posted here, so that’s what all the earlier posts are about.
I have some stuff to write, so this is where I’m gonna put it.
Also, quite a while ago I kept a log when I was on board of a tall ship and some of that got posted here, so that’s what all the earlier posts are about.
Pasta with tomato sauce is a classic. I’ve made it plenty of times, with a variety of vegetables, herbs and other flavours, and it’s never bad. But last week, I really hit the good side of variance and the pseudo-random combination of ingredients I choose turned out to make a sauce that was really above the curve. I won’t say it’s the best tomato sauce ever – the tomato sauce parameter space is vast – but it was good enough to make me want to write down the recipe for future sauce making.
for 4-5 servings
coconut or other oil
4 garlic cloves
3 bay leafs
salt & pepper
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp capers
1 tbsp caper brine
splash of red wine vinegar
stock cube of bouillon powder
~100 mL water
400 g passata di pomodori (tomato sauce base)
470g green lentils (drained weight, this is 2 cans)
Chop the onion and finely chop the garlic. Heat up a saucepan and add your oil, turn the heat to medium once the pan is hot. Fry the onion for a few minutes, then add garlic, bay leafs and some dried oregano. Fry for another minute or so and add a generous amount of salt and pepper.
Finely chop your capers, add them and the sugar to the pan and stir. Add caper brine, red wine vinegar, stock cube or bouillon powder, and some water. Cook this for a few minutes to make sure sugar and stock/bouillon powder are dissolved. Then take the pan of the heat and whiz everything with a hand blender into a smooth base for your sauce. (Alternatively, you can transfer the mixture to a blender and blend it like that).
Put back on the heat and add passata and drained lentils. Let this simmer for a while and season with more salt/pepper/sugar to taste, if needed. Serve over cooked pasta, optionally with some nutritional yeast and a side of vegetables!
 To tase means: taste it and use your judgment to decide what, if anything, needs to be added. It can also mean “according to your taste” but that goes for everything!
 I made fried aubergine slices. Slice an aubergine into approximately 1cm thick, round slices. Cover both sides of each slice in a thin layer of flour. Then fry them in oil turning frequently. I works well if you also cover the frying pan with a large lid in between turnings, to make sure the aubergine is thoroughly cooked by the time the outside is fried brown.
[2+] Alternatively, you could add some vegetables to the sauce. I actually made this pasta because we had some leftover leafy greens, but them forgot to actually add them… So for my last portion of leftover when there was no aubergine left, I added fried greens to the pasta instead.
I recently ran a Dungeons&Dragons game for my friends, and I wanted to cook them something nice for dinner as well. I made Spanish-inspired stuffed peppers with vegan mince on the evening before the game, and put them in the oven on the day. My omni friends were really impressed – if I may say so myself – and the harshest judge (me) approved as well. Give it a go!
oil (I used coconut)
3 garlic cloves
3-4 bay leaves
pack of meatless mince (I used the Meatless Farm Co.)
1.5 heaped tbsp of tomato puree
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/3 of 500 g passata di pomodori
[optional] Maggi liquid seasoning*
2/3 of 500 g passata di pomodori
1.5 heaped tsp brown sugar (or other sugar)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Potted grilled or pickled peppers**
Prepare the stuffing
Finely chop onion and garlic. Put your favourite frying pan on a medium heat and add some oil. Fry the onions and bay leaves for a minute or so, then add the garlic. Fry the meatless mince separately in a non-stick pan^ (instructions on packaging).
Mix the onoins, garlic and bay leaves back in, along with the tomato puree and maple syrup. Add 1/3 of your total passata di pomodori, stir, and add salt and pepper (and maggi) to taste. Mix in the sultanas and the stuffing is done!
Make the tomato sauce^^
Heat up the rest of your passata di pomodori in a pan, then mix in the rest of the ingredients. Add salt to taste.
Stuff and grill the peppers
Pre-heat the oven to 175 °C fan oven).
Grease a roasting dish with olive oil. Take your peppers out of the pot and rinse of any brine, seeds and skin (if it peels off). Stuff the peppers one at a time with a spoon and lay them in the roasting dish. If you have leftover stuffing and room left in your dish, you can make separate heaps of stuffing that will just have to do without pepper.
Cover the peppers and any loose stuffing with the tomato sauce. Covering it well makes sure the peppers and stuffing don’t dry out in the oven.
Put in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 160 °C for another 15 minutes°°.
Traditionally served with rice (I think).
*Traditional Dutch cuisine is well-known for it’s complete lack of any interesting flavourings, which is why Dutch people like to add a few drops of Maggi to basically anything. It deepends the flavour, so I reckon it could be replaced by vegan Worcester sauce or some soy sauce (add less salt if using soy). If you do find Maggi, only use a few drops! It’s a really strong flavour and unlike garlic, too much really is too much.
**Grilled peppers have a bit more flavour than pickled ones and are de-skinned, but tend to be more expensive. The main thing is that you want them to be soft; with raw peppers there is a risk of them not being cooked enough when they come out of the oven. You can probably make your own grilled peppers but I haven’t tried.
^I found the meatless mince is a bit trickier to fry than actual meat, from what I remember. Frying it separately form the onions makes it easier. When they say a non-stick pan on the packaging they really mean it. I used more oil than the packaging recommended though.
^^The original recipe used “tomato frito”, a tomato sauce from grilled tomatoes that had added sugar. I couldn’t find it here so I decided to make my own sweetened tomato sauce.
°° These very specific oven instructions are courtesy of my mum.
I’ve played a fair bit on Dungeons&Dragons (all 5th edition), but I’d never taken on the role of DM before. (The DM is the Dungeon Master, i.e. the person running the game.) An opportunity presented itself for me to run a one-off game for a group of friends. I had already worked out a possible basis for a story a while back, so we decided to plan a date which forced me to work towards that deadline. Of course, I then postponed it, but only once :p
I managed to finish all important preparations on time – plus drawing some cardboard monster mini’s such as a giant octopus. Friends arrived, we played the game, nothing went horribly wrong and we all had a fun time. But I don’t think I’m going to do this again anytime soon. My main take-away: it was a huge amount of work to prepare.
Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t bother DM’ing a D&D game. It’s a very personal statement. First of all, many people would probably tell me at this point that I should have just taken a pre-made adventure to run. True, that would have been a lot less work, but I really wanted to make something of my own. I think I was less interested in running a game as I was in making one. Being a bit of a perfectionist, I obviously tried my very best to make something good. It’s not necessarily a problem, but it is a commitment.
Secondly, I’m a preparer, not an improviser. I spent a lot of time going through parts of the story in my head, and making sure that events had a plausible cause, and people had plausible reasons to do things. I went through possibilities of what the players could do, and figured out ways to respond to those things in advance. Maybe I’m not actually a bad improviser and I’m just worried about it. But I think it’s just not my strong suit: I enjoy a good puzzel or a challenge most of the time, but not under time pressure.
By the way, consider that this was a one-off game, a linear adventure. There were different possibilities depending on the player’s choices (and die rolls) on a small scale, but overall main events were fixed. It’s pretty impressive for DMs to manage an open-ended, long-term D&D campaing. If you want to work on your lateral and quick thinking skills, maybe that’s a good way to do it.
Lastly, it wouldn’t be an event hosted by me if there wasn’t any food provided. I do really enjoy cooking for people. To be honest, it’s also because I want to dissuade people form bringing in food with animal products, which makes me want to provide them with an easy alternative. I’m very glad I made dinner in advane though! The Spanish-inspired stuffed peppers were incredibly well received. From lunch we can also conclude that omnivores like tofurky slices as much as vegans do (which – to be clear – is a lot).
Next time, I’m just going to invite people over for board games or an MTG draft, make dinner, and in all likelihood have a comparable amount of fun for a fraction of the prep work!
Knowing what vegetables you’re using is also for the weak. Apparently. Because I just made a really nice pasta with some leafy greens of unknown identity – no idea what they were when I picked them up in the store, fried them in olive oil and garlic, or when I just took a bite – tasty though! So if you decide to make this recipe, I wholeheartedly recommend to go to the (super)market and choose something from the edible plants section that is made of leafs and is green (maybe not lettuce though…)
Ingredients for three people 
punnet of cherry tomatoes
pasta for three, ~225 g (I used a mix of wholewheat and plain fusili)
50-100g pine nuts (depends how nutty you want to be, harhar)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
leafy greens ~200 g
can of chickpeas
100 mL soy cream
2 tbsp nutritional yeast (= nooch)
olive oil, pepper, sail
Preheat the oven to 200*C (fan oven). Put cherry tomatoes in a roasting tray and drizzle over a good amount of olive oil, and sprinkle with pepper and salt. Once your oven is hot, bake the tomatoes for about 20 minutes. 
Boil your pasta for as long as it needs and add some salt and olive oil to the boiling water if you fancy feeling like you know what you’re doing. Drain when done and put the boiled pasta back into the pan. (You can do most of the rest of the recipe while the pasta boils.)
Put a large frying pan on medium heat and roast your pine nuts. Be careful to move them around in the pan almost constantly as they burn quickly. When they’re browned take them out and put aside for now. Heat up olive oil in the pan and fry some chili flakes and the minced garlic. Add the leafy greens and stir fry for five minutes on low to medium heat. Add the chickpeas (without the liquid ), salt and pepper and stir for a minute or so. Poor in the soy cream, stir in the yeast flakes, and leave on the heat for a bit longer so that the cream is warm as well. Then add the mixture and the roasted tomatoes (with roasting oil) to the pasta.  Done!
 You guessed it, me today, me at lunch time and another me in the near future! Unless you make me an offer now I suppose.
 If you like garlic, add a whole clove of garlic or two to the roasting tomatoes. I don’t think it matters much for the tomatoes but the roasted garlic is super nice to eat straight out of the skin.
 You can save the liquid from the can of chickpeas – it’s called aquafaba – and use it as an egg white replacement. I like to make chocolate mousse with it (melt some chocolate with a pinch of salt, whip up the aquafaba, then add some powdered sugar and whip some more until stiff, stir in the chocolate, divide over glasses or something and let set in the fridge overnight).
 It took me 20 minutes to cook this dish, which seems to imply that it took me zero minutes to prepare the tomatoes and mix everything together. I actually cut the oven time for the tomatoes a bit short because I was pretty hungry. If you want to time everything perfectly and not have your pasta get cold while you’re waiting for the tomatoes, I’d recommend waiting for five minutes after they’ve gone in the over before boiling the pasta and doing everything else.
Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a great New Year’s Eve, and if you didn’t, don’t worry about it, it was just a Monday night except with a lot of expectations 😉
Speaking of expectations, what do you think of when somebody says the word “lasagna”? I once learned that to most people, this means layered pasta with tomato-meat sauce and cheese, whereas I had always known it with a vegetable filling (and bechamel with parmesan). Since I went vegan I’ve had to reinvent it. I still like it, so it’s a happy new lasagna.
It’s also a pretty good meal for serving a lot of people (or just for myself, me tomorrow, maybe a bit for someone else, and the rest for me again) , so I decided to make some for the party last night. I’ve heard some good things about it and I’ve been asked for the recipe (succes!), so here you go. It’s not the quickest or easiest recipe (the bechamel being the main cause of both these things), but trust me it’s worth it.
ingredients for one over dish, feeds 4-6 people
lasagna (the pasta)
—- filling —- 1
3 garlic cloves
500g passata di pomodoro
red wine (optional)
can of (green) lentils (or cook your own)
200g spinach (I used fresh but frozen should be fine too)
salt, pepper, mixed herbs (dried oregano, basil, that sort of thing)
—-bechamel —- 2
30g vegan butter/margerine
~3 heaped tbsp plain flour
400mL almond milk (or soy or oat…)
200g grated vegan cheeze (I used violife block)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes (engivita)
Filling Chop the onion and finely mince the garlic. Cut the courgette in small-ish pieces. Put a large pan (preferably cast-iron or other thick pan) on medium high heat and add some olive oil once it’s hot, then fry the onion for a few minutes. Add the garlic, stir, then add the courgette.
After frying for about five minutes, add the wine – if using – and the passata di pomodoro. Also stir in salt, pepper and mixed herbs. Add in the spinach3 , rince the lentils and add them as well. Have a taste of the filling to see if it needs more salt/pepper/herbs.
Bechamel Put a saucepan on medium heat and melt in the butter. Then turn the heat low and stir the flour through the melted butter, the clumpy stuff you get it called a roux. Add a little bit of nut milk and stir, it gets absorbed into the roux. Add a bit of milk again and so on, switch to a whisk once the clump becomes more liquid4. Add in the rest of the milk and keep whisking while the sauce thickens. Switch to a large spoon to stir in the grated cheeze and yeast flakes.
Build your lasagna. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees celsius (fan oven). Take a low and wide over dish, and start with a very thin layer of your tomato filling5, then a layer of lasagna (it’s okay to break the sheets to fill the shape of the dish). Spread half your filling on top of the pasta, then poor half your bechamel on top of that. Repeat with another layer of pasta, filling, bechamel. Try to cover the top of the lasagna with the bechamel to keep the filling from spilling out too much, spread using a spoon if needed. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes (check the top doesn’t become blackened or dark brown, you may need to turn down the heat a little). Done!
1] This is one of those recipes where I might as well write “veg” in the ingredients list, since you can swap in basically anything you like for the filling. For example, peas or olives work really nicely as well.
2] The quantities for the bechamel sauce are a horrible guesstimate, sorry. If you find your sauce is too thick, just add some more milk. If you find it’s too thin and it really doesn’t thicken after cooking it for a while, that’s a bit tricky since just adding lour makes it clumpy. You can either live with it and hope melting in the cheese makes it thick enough (it just needs to not seep through your vegetable layer), or make a new roux of butter and flour in a separate pan, then bit by bit add the bechamel you already have in.
3] The spinanch may not all fit at once, but it reduces a lot once it’s heated. So just add in handful after handful and stir through the sauce until the next batch fits. If using frozen spinach, also add it at this stage but it’ll take longer since it needs to thaw.
4] You can use a whisk for all of this, but I find using a spoon for the first bit easier since the clumpy roux tends to get stuck inside the whisk. You can also add more milk at a time once the first clumpiness is overcome.
5] The purose of the layer is to make it easier for the bottom layer of pasta to cook; since it’s the liquid in the filling that cooks it.
I live in a quiet neighbourhood with paper thin walls between the houses. But, once a year it’s okay to ask for your neighbours’ forgiveness, and throw a party. So we did, yesterday. And if you know me you’d know that I’d absolutely take the opportunity to go all out on making party food. I get to build up my excitement doing something I like (got to get the cleaning out of the way first), it makes the party so much better if there’s plenty of snacks, and I get to show off to people how tasty vegan food can be; I just love it!
I believe everyone had a great time and I’m sure the food helped. Also thanks to my friends who brought bread* and hummus. I’ve had a few people ask about two of the snacks I made in particular (success!), so here are the recipes. Besides those we had nachos with home-made salsa and guacamole, and plenty of store-bought snacks because I’m not the kind of maniac who is also going to make their own crisps and biscuits.
This is a Mediterranean dip that goes really well on bread or crackers as an appetizer (or a 5 pm snack because you had some leftover from the party and kind of forgot to eat lunch).
one tin/jar black olives (although you could use green as well)
sun-dried tomatoes (about a third or half as much as olives)
olive oil (use some from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes with all the tastiness in it)
2 cloves of garlic
fresh parsley (I guess this is optional because I forgot to get some and it was still great without)
Blend everything together with a hand mixer or food processor or the like. Add a little bit of oil and blend until you like the consistency. It should be a thick, spreadable dip.
I don’t have much to say about these, since it’s not my recipe at all. Check it out at Bosh!. I used olives, sun-dried tomatoes and a few cherry tomatoes as fillings, because that’s what I had at hand.
* If you live or have lived in the UK you would know: the supermarket bread here is really miserable. Even the fancy looking, more expensive “seeded batch”, it’s just not that tasty and has no texture. Since I don’t have a bakery near me, I’m pretty lucky I got some freshly baked sourdough from my friend.
I wish I was a nihilist. I also wish I had invested in a pair of noise cancelling headphones because frankly, I’m more often distracted from chatter in the office then from existential dread. But not today.
So here’s the thing: The world has a lot of issues. For example, the world’s population is at risk from the catastrophic consequences of global warming within the next decades (“Climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5°C and increase further with 2°C”). We know the cause of the problem (an increase in greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity), and we have the tools to solve it (green energy tech, nutritional plant-based food). Yet, we are not implementing these solutions quickly enough, and on a large enough scale, to avoid disaster.
On a personal level, it makes me 1) fear the future and 2) hate people. Putting aside for a second the discussion on whether my information is correct and my logic is sound, but I’m pretty confident that *things* are going to be *really bad*. That doesn’t put me in a good mood to start with.
It also leads to the second point: Why are so many people around me still pretending that preferring public transport over cars, thinking seriously about not taking trips by plane, and not eating meat are for altruistic hippies who want bonus points on their karma cards? You’re metaphorically maintaining a heroin addiction except you are affecting everyone else’s body just as much as your own, it’s legal and socially acceptable, and you actually have control of changing your behaviour.
I know we are all just faulty computers made of meat. I also know that a lot of what we do is determined by our environment and that it would be nice if the government took responsibility for this. But I’m not friends with the government so it doesn’t hurt as much in the feels.
Oh sure there are plenty of people who are working on solving this (and other) problems. There’s also good stuff in the world like the advancement of humanity since the middle ages and peanut butter. But that doesn’t negate this issue, nor stop me from caring about it and thus making me feel a little bit down today.
Referencing is not about referencing, referencing is about signalling:
 From the UN report http://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_spm_final.pdf
Some time ago on holiday with friends I made stir fry for dinner, and now, they want the recipe. But, I don’t remember how I made it! It’s stir fry, it could be anything! The main ingredients I remember are: some peppers (because I remembered thinking very long and hard on whether I should add them), no mushrooms (because we forgot we had them and I made soup with them later), and cashews (because we had to especially get more because someone ate them…). So, here’s an extrapolation from these parameters using my prior knowledge on what I would probably put in a stir fry.
Ingredients (4-ish people)
1 red chili
piece of ginger (1 cm)
~5 cloves or garlic
1 lime (we will use both zest and juice)
soy sauce (keep on the side if you have a soy-intolerant friend :p)
~200 g mangetout
~200 g bean sprouts
2 peppers (any colours)
handful cashews per person
bunch of spring onions
oil (sunflower or a mix of sunflower and coconut or sesame)
Make a spice base by grating garlic, ginger and zest of the lime, and adding finely chopped chili (remove the seeds unless you want it extra spicy). Cut the broccoli stalk in pieces* (keep them separate) and divide the head into medium-sized chunks. Remove the core and seeds of the peppers and cut them in strips, then cut the strips in threes to get nicely sized bits. Very roughly chop the cashews, it’s okay if there’s still some whole ones.
Put a wok (or large skillet if you don’t have one) on high heat and add your oil. When the oil’s hot, add the spice base and fry it for a minute or so. Then add broccoli stalk bits and peppers and fry for a few minutes. If using sesame oil, I usually only add it at this point because I don’t want it to get too hot and evaporate.
Add the rest of the broccoli, cashews, and mangetout. Add black pepper and salt (especially if skipping the soy sauce) and stir. Splash in some water to make the broccoli cook easier and reduce the heat somewhat.
Once everything is done or nearly done, add bean sprouts and lastly the spring onions (they don’t need to be fried). Alternatively, you can briefly cook the bean sprouts by poring boiling water on them, leaving it for a minute, and draining them. You can then add the cooked bean sprouts and the spring onions after turning off the heat.
Flavour the stir fry with soy sauce and lime juice. I recommend squeezing only half the lime and tasting, then decide if you want more lime**. Serve with boiled rice (I prefer brown rice with this meal) or noodles.
* Almost everyone I know throws out the stalk of the broccoli, but it’s actually perfectly fine to eat. Some time ago I had a Chinese neighbour who taught me how to cook her veggie stir fry and she would be careful to use all of the edible parts of the plant. No reason not to, just make sure you boil/fry the stalk bits a bit longer than the rest. I now feel justified using it too, although I do remove a bit off the end since it’s usually dried out.
** You’re gonna squeeze the lime, then taste a bit of veg by fishing it out of the wok with your fingers. You will then go “oh shit, this is way too limey!” Idiot, you are tasting the lime juice on your fingers. Wisdom gained from personal experience.
– I’m not telling you to wash your veggies in the recipe, but you should wash your veggies.
– Even though they are not in this recipe, you can definitely add mushrooms (brown ones – which are grown above ground – have vitamin D and are tastier than white ones). You can skip any of the vegetable ingredients and add some others, a few suggestions: green beans (in halves or thirds), spinach, baby corn, white or red cabbage (slice very thin), carrots, … I also like making golden brown fried tofu and adding this to the stir fry.
When you’ve made your Indonesian satay sauce and you’re ready for more, here’s a good one. Seroendeng [seh-roon-deng] is an Indonesian side made from coconut and used to sprinkle over rice or other food. The great thing about it is that you can make a bunch in one go, keep it in a sealed container, and use it with a lot of rice-based, asian-y dishes to add some flavour. Or you know, just eat it straight from the bowl if you have some leftover…
A spoonful or two of the paste as for the satay sauce recipe*
2 tbsp brown sugar (or palm sugar)
about 3 tbsp oil (coconut or sunflower preferably)
200-ish gram of desiccated coconut (or like, whatever amount you want)
[optional] handful of peanuts
Heat up a skillet with the oil. When the oil’s hot, fry the spoonful spice paste (boemboe) for a few minutes. Turn the heat low and the coconut. Stir through the oil and spices and keep stirring the whole time. Add the sugar and peanuts, if using. Keep stirring until the coconut looks mostly brown. Take off the heat. Done.
* I recommend making seroendeng when you’re already making spice paste for something like the satay sauce.
Serving: As the last thing before eating, sprinkle a few spoonfuls over your rice (or veggies, or on top of your satay sauce, or all of the above).
Indonesian food is quite popular in the Netherlands (…let’s not talk about the colonizing past for a sec) and that’s wholly understandable: it’s the best. Here in the UK, I can’t find all the exact ingredients I need, but I’m pretty sure I’ve given it a good try. I really like cooking this for a group of friends and so far, reactions have been very positive.
A home cooked Indonesian meal could look something like this: some boiled rice, vegetables like green beans, leafy greens and some bean sprouts, tempeh or tofu but most importantly, satay sauce. The peanut-based sauce is really what makes it so delicious and so that’s the first recipe I’ll give you. Always make a little more than you think you need (but only do one iteration of that thought process else you’ll end up with an infinite amount of sauce).
Ingredients (for two people, I think)
2 small shallots
3 cloves of garlic
piece of ginger (about 1 cm)
half a red chili
ground coriander (like, 2 tsp?)
couple of bay leaves
A LOT of peanut butter (at least two scoops with a tablespoon as full as possible)
some oil (coconut or sunflower pref.)
water (maybe 50-100 mL to begin with, but you’ll add more as you cook the sauce)
Make a paste from all the ingredients between the lines (this is called a boemboe [boomboo]). You can use a food processor or spend a lot of time chopping them as fine as you can/ using a grater. Pestle and mortar is the traditional way.
Heat up a layer of oil in a saucepan and fry the paste for a few mins. Add the bay leaves and stir so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom too much. Add some water and a few scoops of peanut butter. Stir to get a homogeneous mix and let it heat for a while. Add water to thin to the consistency you want (the sauce will thicken up some as you heat it) and add peanut butter to get a thicker sauce or if you decide you want more. Best to cook the sauce for a while but not to let it boil.
Notes: For this recipe and other Indonesian cooking I usually look at the site kokkieslomo, which is great if you can read Dutch… Peanut sauce I’ve been making since forever but I took some inspiration from here.