Sunday, 31 July 2011

Veganicity for the very young

I can't give any experience-based advice on raising vegan children, as I have yet to produce any minature grasshoppers. However, as I do plan to do this in the future and have been looking for information, I can tell you about some blogs and websites that might be useful.

Our Vegan Pregnancy - this couple don't update a whole lot any more because they're busy raising the twin boys who resulted from the eponymous pregnancy. But the archives are still there.
Baby Steps Vegan didn't intend for her children to join her vegan journey, but they seem to have done so. Read her blog to find out what she feeds them and how she deals with potentially awkward situations.
The Vegan Society's parenting page has links to various resources.
ActiVeg has a similar page, inspired by Sophie's own experience raising two healthy vegan daughters.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The Joy of Pot

No, I haven't been sharing a Yoda bong with the Meatless Monday Unicorn - I'm very much of the opinion that (at least in my own life) pot is for cooking not smoking*. And that sort of pot, I am happy to push at impressionable newcomers to veganism. Raw foodists can probably ignore this post - for everyone else, even if you live alone with one gas burner**, this piece of equipment will make things a lot easier.

Of course, you may have been cooking for yourself for years, be used to making meals from scratch and just want to veganise that process. (In which case stay tuned or check out the recipes at Increasing Veganicity.) But if weaning yourself off readymeals and cooking after a long day or in less-than-optimal kitchen situations (e.g. shared housing where use of the stove is difficult at peak times) is your main stumbling block, a stockpot might be just what you need. If you can't or don't want to spend too much money at first, there are plenty of cheap options out there at the smaller end of the scale. Mine is a fairly standard one from Poundstretcher, and can produce up to ten helpings of chilli at a pinch. (If you want to go larger you might need to find a more specialist store - I want to get a bigger one at some point so can report back on findings when that happens!)

The main purpose of a large pot, unless you have a pretty large household, is to spread the load a bit by making double/triple/whatever quantities at one meal. The extra veg chopping can make it take a bit longer that day, but every extra helping is another meal you don't have to worry about. I nearly always make chilli with the intention of refrigerating it (in the stockpot) overnight and having it two days in a row - the prep happens on one day, the potwashing on the other! I usually do the same with curry, stew (mostly in the winter) and any other meal of a similar consistency.

If you're more ambitious and have sufficient freezer space, it is worth making even more so you can stick a couple of helpings in the freezer as a homemade readymeal. (This is also worth doing for non-stockpot meals such as lasagne, moussaka and homemade pizza - my motto is that if it takes extra faff to make it can also stretch to an extra meal or two!)

A bigger pan also means you have more capacity for soaking and boiling beans - in some places this can work out cheaper than buying them tinned, and is certainly easier in terms of getting beans home from the shop, but it would be a major time-consuming hassle to do every time you wanted a small quantity. If you have a fridge you can do a couple of extra helpings - store them in water, salted if they'll be hanging around for a while, in a tightly-closed screwtop jar - while a freezer allows you to do a bag or two at once. When I lived alone I froze single portions in empty (Alpro in case you're interested) yogurt pots - now a margarine tub makes more sense.

Just to balance things out, I'd suggest that a single person or couple keep a 'milk pan'*** around the place - one of these holds enough rice for two people to have about one and a half helpings. They don't come with lids, but a side plate does the job ok. Erzatz, me?

*Paprika categorically IS for smoking, I love the stuff!
**Let's assume that relationship is platonic, for the sake of everyone's sanity...
***That's what they're sold as. Mine sometimes gets soy milk in, if I want white sauce. Better names on a postcard please ;)