Slow Cooker Saag Aloo

I made this to liven up my midweek meals. All you need is a slow cooker. I picked mine up from an ethical house clearance charity near by for £5.

Please feel free to pin the below image on Pinterest.com. :)

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Ingredients

800 g potatoes, chopped (I don’t peel mine, but feel free if that is your thing.)

1 tbsp of oil

1 tsp mustard of choice

1 tsp turmeric

2 tsp garam masala

140 g frozen spinach

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Method

Place all the ingredients into the slow cooker and cook on a medium heat for 5 hours. When it comes to the water, use as much as you need to fill up the slow cooker pot. Serve with garlic bread.

Nice and easy. :)

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Vegan Poached Egg

As someone who has been vegan for near on a decade, I’ve never really missed eggs. It’s only because a newbie vegan said they were missing them, that I even considered making them.

I can’t take all the credit for this. I got a lot of inspiration from the internet on ways to make this actually happen.

Also because of where I live, lots of fancy ingredients just aren’t available here. I wanted to make a poached egg any one, anywhere could make. I’m also unable to eat the Vegg due to production methods. (Made in the same factory as crustacean products which I am allergic to.) With that in mind, here are the ingredients for the yolk:

120 ml water

1 teaspoon of vegetable stock powder

1 teaspoon of cornflour

1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric

2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast

1/2 a teaspoon of English mustard

1/2 a teaspoon American mustard

1 tablespoon of vegan butter (I used Vitalite.)

Blend everything in a food processor, except the butter and pour into a hot pan. Turn the heat off and melt the butter into the mix straight away. Drain into a small bowl and leave to cool.

Ingredients for the white:

600 g of firm silken tofu

3.5 tablespoons of arrowroot powder

2 teaspoons of vegan gelatine powder (I used vegan non-sweetened powder.)

1/4 teaspoon of salt. (If you can get black salt, even better.)

Blend all the ingredients until entirely smooth. Now get your poaching device and fill it with the white mixture. Make a well in the middle and fill with yolk. Depending on the size of your device, 1 or 2 heaped teaspoons. Cover the yolk with white until it isn’t visible and drop device into boiling water.

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Cover the pan with a lid so the top is also cooked. (For about 15 minutes.)

The first egg was actually crap. Why? I put the yolk in whilst it was still warm.

20150414_133712The second one I thought I’d cracked (no pun intended) so I served it on spinach, maple bacon and an English muffin. It fell apart because I only cooked it for 8 minutes.

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Then I made this little diamond. 15 minutes, gently simmered and lovingly turned onto a plate without breaking.

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The yolk is thick and mustardy, just like a chicken’s egg. The white is soft but bouncy. It’s also not as fatty as an egg because you are not adding much fat, but it is still high in protein and B12.

I left some of the 6 I made, in the fridge and heated one up for later. Although it fell apart a bit, it was very tasty with a home grown herby freekah salad.

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I hope this helps anyone craving chicken’s eggs as a new vegan and changes the lives of those of us long term vegans who never dreamed this would be possible.

 

(N.B I know it doesn’t look pretty. What do you want? A perfect vegan egg? Hahahahhaaha! :P )

I’m sorry, but you’re wrong this time.

In this blog post I am going to be swearing, a lot. If you are easily offended, please don’t read past here. This is not for you.

Last week was busy in the world of abolitionist veganism for quite a few reasons. Sadly none of them were positive.

I’m going to start this story right from the beginning. Right back in September 2014 when things started to really change.
I and many of my UK vegan friends were part of The Abolitionist Vegan Society or TAVS for short and had been for quite some time. The movement had been founded in the US on Gary Francione’s principles of abolition of animal exploitation, in response to the lack of consistency in The UK Vegan Societies ethics. I had never felt more at home. I had long conversations with members about everything from animals to my gender identity. I felt we really understood each other and I felt like Sarah K Woodcock was my friend, even though I had never met her. Unfortunately last summer there was a lot of racial tension in the US and rightly so after what happened. It seemed like the US members of TAVS then went on a mission to declare every single action of anyone who disagreed with them as racism, sexism or homophobia. They had taken being an intersectional group to a level that no normal person could possibly ever live up to. A few UK TAVS members voiced their concerns and others declared that they were going to disassociate with them because they couldn’t live up to the new expectations. In no way were these people racists, homophobes or sexists. In fact they were and still are bloody good vegan educators. They are my friends and just because they are white, does not mean they are racist or anything else for that matter. TAVS went on a bullying hate campaign calling them misogynists and plastering their pictures all over the internet and quotes from their Facebook walls where they had used the word cunt. (More on this later.) It was so bad that one even had to change her name so she couldn’t be identified. All the UK abolitionist vegans that I know immediately withdrew their support from TAVS in disgust. I messaged Sarah asking what was going on and the reason’s for her actions and I was ignored and unfriended.

Us UK abvegans felt very alienated. We had no one to represent us. So what we did is went back to what we should have been doing all along, grassroots vegan education and not messing around on Facebook with TAVS.

A few months later Pete Crosbie who runs the Willowite Animal Sanctuary, posted the below image. He is an Australian TAVS advocate. He also provided the pictures for the TAVS calender. He was not reprimanded at all. It wasn’t even mentioned to him when I spoke to him about it. (No offence intended Pete.)

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Why if cunt is such a horrendous word was he not pulled up on this? Convenience. It was convenient for TAVS to ignore this because it didn’t further their agenda and they got to keep their calender.

In the last few days it has been made public that Tower Hills Stables, a supposedly vegan sanctuary in the UK have been selling eggs from their rescue hens in a vain attempt at trying to educate people on the horrors of the egg industry. Gary Francione picked up on this and publicly asked on their FB page why they were doing this. I have also chimed in on this debate as I don’t feel it is effective activism, it is exploitation and is not what vegans should be doing. A few hours later it was brought to Francione’s attention that Martin who runs the sanctuary, had used the Buddha image from above. Francione has started a hate campaign and is actively bullying Martin, calling him a misogynist and splashing images all over the internet. Francione never picked up on Pete Crosbie. Maybe because he is an abolitionist and Martin isn’t.

So now you have the background to what I am about to say, it might make a bit more sense as to why I am saying it.

I do not and have never had a problem with the word cunt. I first heard it when I was 10 years old, but didn’t really know what it meant until much later. The word itself is the only English language word that describes the whole of the genitalia. It has various origins mostly involving female deity worship and words that describe the genitalia in a pleasant way. I can think of a lot more offensive things to call it than cunt:

George Bush

Unmentionable parts

Tuppence

Wizard’s sleeve

Hairy axe wound

Beef curtains

Gash

Cock pit

Spam purse

Bubble gum sandwich

Pussy

Spunk skip

Pink velvet sausage wallet

Bucket

Slit

Clunge

I mean for fuck’s sake! Those are some really offensive terms right there and it’s always cunt that is singled out. It is a word of beauty! As the world migrated away from female goddess worship and towards male god worship, it also moved towards more sexual repression and male privilege. The word became taboo in the middle ages at the height of single male deity worship. The female and her devilish temptations should not be mentioned.

Therefore is it misogynistic to single the word out and demonise it? Is it not damn right bloody sexist as a white, heterosexual male to decide that a word reclaimed by some feminists (including myself) is in itself wrong?

In the UK and Ireland the word cunt is used as a term of endearment in most circles of people under 50. We call each other cunts as we do call each other mate. The word describes genitalia but it also describes your friend. Therefore to have the American’s (TAVS and Francione) impose their sexism and cultural colonialism on us because they don’t understand is absolutely unacceptable. How dare they!?

I’m sorry abvegan movement, but you’re wrong this time.

 

My Gender Queer Life

I grew up in a house with two opposite sex parents. I like to state this because it is not by any means a given in life. My mother was and still is obsessed with femininity and my father has always been traditionally masculine. A pretty traditional upbringing in all senses of the word.

I was closer to my dad as a child. I don’t really know why. By the time I was 3 I could name every car on the road because he loved cars. He often took me to work with him at a car showroom and to various motor sport events which I loved.

My mum put me in dresses for a long time, but as soon as I could choose, I was in trousers and a t-shirt. They made me feel more comfortable. Not to say I didn’t enjoy spending time with my mum, because I did.

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The first memory I have of knowing I was different was when I was 6 years old. My mum and my sister had taken me and my niece and nephew to an outdoor public paddling pool. It was a hot day and all the kids were running in and out of the water. My nephew threw his shirt off and ran into the pool with just shorts on. I took my shirt off and ran in after him. I was shouted at and told that girls must wear tops at all times. I protested, but I was really embarrassed. I had broken a social norm and all I ever wanted to do was please my family. It effected me so profoundly that I didn’t even consider what I felt like inside for almost 20 years.

Around the age of 14 I came out to my family as a lesbian. I had a girlfriend and it was becoming increasingly difficult to hide it. It was a relief but I suffered for it at school and in my personal life. To be honest this is quite irrelevant to my GQ story, other than a particular point I want to make:

Sexuality and gender and two different things.

  • Sexuality is who you are attracted to.
  • Gender is how you identify.

Like with the binary gender norms (male and female), sexuality is also enforced in a trinary (probably not a word.) Straight, gay or bisexual with the assumption you are straight unless you say otherwise.

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As an adult I have come to realise both are on a spectrum, identifying as pansexual and GQ. (Being pansexual means you are attracted to the whole spectrum and reject the gender binary.)

Around about the age of 27 my partner of 3 years left me. We had a mortgage together, 3 cats and we had built a stable life. She left without warning and little explanation. My boss at the time was an unsympathetic homophobe who basically told me to get over it. I sat and cried at my desk everyday until HR eventually signed me off sick for a week. I drank a lot and had time to think about what she had potentially been suppressing in me. I started to explore my feelings about gender on Tumblr and Reddit. I started to connect with people who felt the same way about themselves as me. We didn’t fit in the gender binary. We didn’t identify as male or female. We were gender queer.

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Now here is where it gets complicated so pay attention. There is a trans* umbrella. It encompasses lots of different identities such as gender fluid, bigender and agender as well as gender queer. I personally am fluid in my gender. Sometimes I feel more masculine or more feminine. However most of the time I’m entirely androgynous. I identify as gender queer because I don’t fit. I’m queer of the norm. If I want to actually pass as a cis male, then I will dress as one and do exactly that. I find it harder to pass as cis female for fucks sake and I have a damn vagina!

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A lot of my gender queer friends have gone on to transition to become who they really are. For example having a female body and transitioning to that of a male. They are now transgendered people. Me on the other hand, I am already who I am and that is queer as bloody folk. ;)

 

So what is my life like on a daily basis? I get up and I think about how I’m feeling. Shall I wear tight jeans or shall I wear a baggy hoodie? Shall I leave the hairs on my lip or shall I pluck them? Suitably dressed for how I’m feeling I’ll go to the gym. Unfortunately at my local gym they do not have gender neutral changing rooms so I have to make a decision based on how I am presenting to the world. Sometimes this is made for me and I am ushered into the male changing rooms because even being androgynous means you are definitely male in the binary world. After the gym I’ll go to the supermarket to grab some shopping. I’ll need a wee because I’ll have drunk a lot post workout. Again there are no gender neutral facilities. I look at the door and the symbols don’t match who I am or how I feel. I have to yet again make a decision I’m not comfortable with. If I go into the female toilets I am often whispered about and sometimes even blatantly shouted out. If I go in the male toilets I could get beaten up. Ah I’m at home now. I’ll check Facebook and see what’s going on in the world. I’ll get misgendered as ‘she’ by strangers and even people I know when my profile clearly states my preferred pronouns are they and them. You know I’m really tired already and I haven’t even been to work yet. She this and she that all fucking night long. ARGH!!!!!!!

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As you can see it’s difficult being a non-binary person in a binary world. Every action can be a stressful situation just waiting to open up and swallow you. Only around people who truly accept me can I be comfortable and sometimes even they make mistakes. It’s so hard to be unconditioned when your whole life you are told that the binary is the only thing there is.

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Being gender queer certainly isn’t any form of attention seeking as I have been accused of in the past. It’s just me trying to express how I really feel inside on the outside.

I hope this little ramble has made things clearer for you. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them below.

Baked Lime Cheesecake

Anyone who reads this blog will know there aren’t many sweet recipes on here. Why? I am simply rubbish at baking. Occasionally I hit a good recipe though and this is one of them. This is my take on a baked lime cheesecake.

BeFunky_20150228_203213.jpgAs normal my adventures in baking are never pretty, but this one tastes amazing!

Ingredients:

1 pot of plain vegan cream cheese (I used Toffuti.)

The juice and zest of one lime.

Half a pack Hob Knob biscuits.

Half a mug of sugar (More if it’s to your taste.)

It’s that easy!

Method:

  • Get the oven on to heat up. About 200 degrees should do it.
  • Empty half a pack of hob knobs into a plastic food bag and tie up. Beat with a rolling pin until they form a fine crumb.
  • Spread your crumb in the dish you want to bake your cheesecake in. I used a small Victoria sponge tin.
  • Pour the remaining ingredients in your food processor and mix until a sweet paste has formed. Add more sugar and lime to taste. A drop of vanilla essence could also do wonders here.
  • Spread thickly over the biscuit base.
  • Bake for 45 minutes checking regularly to ensure it doesn’t burn.
  • Leave to cool then place in the fridge to set before serving.
  • Take to your newbie vegan friend’s house and show them that they can still have cheesecake. ;)

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 Serve with vegan ice cream to be extra naughty. ;)

 

 

 

Tomato Spaghetti With Smoky Bacon Tofu

If you get this recipe right, it will literally be one of the best things you’ll ever eat. The sauce has been in the making for several years. I use it in all Italian dishes now. The smoky bacon tofu is spot on. It actually tastes like bacon when warm and ham when cold. I destroyed my kitchen in a hurricane of destruction getting the recipe right.

First of all I was just going to do the sauce recipe for you and totally cop out on the bacon by using chorizo.

BeFunky_20150120_125503.jpgI decided against it. I used chilled smoked tofu to make some seriously awesome bacon. :)

Ingredients:

2 white onions, peeled and chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tbsp sugar

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

1 tsp of chilli paste

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp oregano

Half a pack of wholewheat spaghetti

1 block of smoked, chilled tofu

Half a pot of paprika

1 tbsp salt (separate from previous salt.)

1 tbsp yeast extract

Method:

First of all get your pan on for the spaghetti. I am lucky enough to have a spaghetti pan. Fill with water and a dash of salt. Allow water to boil first if you don’t have a spaghetti pan. Otherwise throw it straight in.

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Press the tofu. I’m not fancy. I use a large pot of sesame seeds and a sieve. Leave that pressing whilst you prepare the sauce.

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Get the sauce going now. Fry off the onions, garlic and chilli for a few minutes until soft. Add the chopped tomatoes, red wine vinegar, salt, sugar and oregano mixing frequently and keeping on a low heat.

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(A good tip for chilli is to go to the supermarket late at night and pick up a big bag that has been reduced to 9p. Blend and then pickle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to get a lovely big jar of chilli paste you can spoon into multiple dishes.)

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Get a frying pan on with a good amount of oil in it and your stove should look something similar to this.

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Cut your drained tofu into pieces the size and thickness of your little finger. Pour the paprika and salt onto a chopping board and mix together with your hands. Place your yeast extract as a dollop on the side. One piece at a time, cover the tofu in salt and paprika. Then using your finger, smear yeast extract on both sides. Stick this in the pan and allow to brown for 2 minutes on each large side. Taste it as soon as it’s cool enough to put in your mouth. Does it taste like bacon? If the answer is yes, do the same with the rest. If the answer is no, add more yeast extract each time until the answer is yes. I went through quite a lot of tofu before I got this right. It’s not really an exact science unfortunately. One thing is true though, it bloody well tastes more like bacon than anything I have ever tasted since becoming vegan.

They should come out like this:

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Not pretty I know, but don’t worry. Taste is what this dish is all about.

Drain your pasta and mix in with the sauce straight away. Sprinkle the top with your tofu bacon that you’ve now cut into cubes. (Do not mix the bacon through.)

Serve straight away or eat cold for lunch the next day.

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The sweetness of the sauce should balance the smoky, salty flavour of the bacon.

I hope you enjoy this. I know it’s not the prettiest or the most comprehensive recipe in the world, but do you know what? The best ones never are.

 

Sticky Lemon Mushrooms

If you’re looking for an easy week night meal that takes about 30 minutes, this is the dish for you.

It’s full of intense flavour and you can add bits to it to bulk it up if you are extra hungry.

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Ingredients

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 whole pack of mushrooms

1 tsp of Chinese five spice powder

2 tbsp plain flour

A thumb sized piece of ginger, shredded

250g of sugar snap peas or mangetout

2 spring onions, sliced

Then for the sauce:

3 lemons (finely grated rind and juice of 2, 1 thinly sliced.)

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp liquid vegetable stock

2 tbsp of golden syrup

2 tsp cornflour, dissolved in 1 tbsp of water

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1) Make the sauce. In a bowl, mix together all the sauce ingredients, except the lemon slices, then set aside.

2) Heat the oil in a wok or a frying pan. Season the mushrooms to your taste and sprinkle with five spice and flour. Brown the mushrooms in the pan.

3) Add the ginger, mangetout and spring onions and sizzle for a few minutes.

4) Finally add the sauce and lemon slices and mix for 2/3 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken.

Serve over white rice. Enjoy! :)

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