Friday, 21 October 2011

A rare event and a secret

Being a vegan means “the dining out experience” or lunch in a café is somewhat problematic.  It pays to always ring before and check “special diets catered for”, and inevitably results in there being no choice but to have “the option”.  This is usually either pasta in tomato sauce or salad and chips, oh yes I have had baked beans and chips, and lets not forget the old standby “nut cutlet”.  I can count on one hand how many nut cutlets I have had but do know they have all been when eating out.  When the waiters bring round the meals they enquire politely who has ordered the Steak this or Chicken That,  until it comes to my meal and they yell scathingly “Who is the Vegan?”   If a customer has an allergy they are treated with more respect than the “nutter vegan woman”.   It is because of these experiences I decline to eat out.  Being away from home when working meant my weight was kept in check because I was afforded so little to eat in even “good hotels”.  I am aware I am in the minority, but feel as a paying customer that if  my money is good enough for them to take, I should be offered at least a choice.  Where is this leading?  Well, on Saturday Dominic took me to lunch in a restaurant in Wolverhampton.  No prior notice required, and for the first time ever I was spoilt for choice.  It was not a vegetarian restaurant.  It catered for those eating dead stuff too.  But the menu was clearly marked for a number of diets.  So a big thumbs up for a tasty meal at 
So if you have vegan friends who appear not to relish the thought of a meal out, perhaps it is the discrimination they fear and do not want to spend their hard earned cash on baked beans and chips at inflated prices whilst watching their friends enjoy gourmet food they would not create at home.  If you do come across restaurants that cater well for “special diets”, then spread the word.

This week the remainder of this contains 1) Jars, 2) Worth a Look, 3) Worth a  Read, 4)Worth a Listen

I tend to keep some jars and not throw every empty one away, and once this habit is formed it poses the question of what to do with them!  Well here are a few suggestions.   And this is where the secret mentioned earlier appears.  The net is awash with chutney and preserves recipes, but not Runner Bean Chutney.  This recipe was handed to me only after I had been friends with an old lady for many many years and she decided it was time to hand it on having stalwartly refusing to reveal anything about it for decades!  And lucky me, it was me to whom she passed the recipe.  But I think good things should be shared, and having kept the recipe for 30 years without sharing it, I too think I have come to an age where it is appropriate to share it with someone special.  And as you are reading this, it must mean you are special!

Runner bean chutney
2 lb runner beans cut up, 4 or 5 large onions diced, 11/2lb Demerara sugar, 2pts vinegar, 11/2 tbs each of cornflour, mustard and turmeric.
Boil beans and onions in salted water, and cut them up fine
Put in a pan with 11/2pts vinegar and the sugar and boil for 15 mins
Mix cornflour, turmeric and mustard with the remaining vinegar and add to the boiling mixture.  Boil for a further 15 mins and then put in sterile jars.

Cake in a jar
If you like the idea of hand made gifts for friends and relatives then these suggestions are worth considering.  The jars can be decorated as little or as much as desired, and they make unique gifts for the recipient. Either the jar is just prepared with ingredients for the recipient to mix and cook in the normal way, or the jar itself becomes the cooking container too.  These sites have ideas for both methods.

Knitting in a jar! The kits that are available may seem rather expensive but one could buy the separate components and pack them in this novel way. and 
 So am I suggesting plagiarism?  Yeah!

2)Worth a look:
With the colder weather coming thoughts might be turning to knitting and crocheting winter projects.  Red Heart have a couple of excellent free ebooks of afghan patterns and they suit crocheters of all skill levels, even if patterns are not followed absolutely the patterns may inspire.  Take a look at

3)Worth a read:
Elizabeth Gaskell was born 29th September 1810 and wrote some books that are still popular today.  Probably many  of us know her through her book Cranford that was serialised successfully on tv.  A novella called “The Moorland Cottage” is available free on sites like Gutenberg where books in the public domain are kept.  The Moorland Cottage is not heavy but does give insight into lives people lead when it was written in 1851. It is a romantic novel but not soppy.  And I am not going to spoil it by giving the end away!  If Cranford is too long as a taster then try The Moorland Cottage.  I did and now I am looking for another book by this excellent writer.
4)Worth a listen.
A playful day   pleasant knitting biased podcast and available on the libsyn link, or playfulday blog or itunes.  Check out the blog which is nice and I liked the recipe Munch Burp Schlurp  I know I don’t say a lot about the podcasts and books as I prefer each person to determine themselves if the subject matter is to their taste when looking at the link.

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