Here we are again.

Once more I find myself guiltily apologising to no one in particular about my lack of activity on this sweet little blog of mine. A quick swatch of my last post notified me that it was written on September 8th 2014.

Didn’t seem like too long ago, right? WRONG.

September is not, as I though, ‘just a few months ago’. It is in fact SIX MONTHS AGO. It’s partly my own fault- I’m of the opinion that it was only New Year a few weeks ago. I’m still bearing the brunt of holiday weight and have been telling myself it’s OK, it’s not like I’ve had THAT much time to recover. Turns out I have.

I’d actually written a lengthier post that I was going to drop, detailing my whereabouts the last few months and why, when it comes to making myself write for fun, I tend to fall apart like a bad sandwich. I thought it had autosaved. It hadn’t.

So here we are again.

The point of the last post, for fans of brevity, was that previous efforts at blogging have faltered because I tend to get distracted writing about just one thing. I loved blogging about film at uni, back in 2009 when I still had to explain that it was short for ‘weblog’. When I graduated, I stopped, because quite simply my cinema habits had dried up in the last dying light of my degree.

When I rebooted this bad boy, I was committed to being vegan for a while. I tried hard, I really did. This was great for keeping myself on track, sharing recipes, making admittances to finding things hard and how I resolved cravings for cheese (at original time of writing, nothing. Now, Violife. Violife is queen). Once I started juggling a Masters degree with two jobs, I had less time to cook things from scratch and, yes, fell off the plant based wagon on occasion.I was tired of feeling guilty about it, and foodie things were taking up less of my time, so I stopped.

That’s basically what was a 600 word apology condensed into two paragraphs. The final thought, then. Why now? Why kick start a dormant blog? I believe the answer lies in the previous paragraph. “Masters degree”. I’m hurtling towards the end of my second trimester. The D-word is becoming a very real threat (starts with D, rhymes with shmissertation, don’t say it out loud). I want to be a good student and say I’m casually picking up my blogging habit because I’m studying journalism and it’s good to write.

This is partly true. But, like all of my assignments this year, it’s split 30/70, and it’s 30%. The other 70%?

I have five assignments due in the next month. Don’t say I don’t know how to do work avoidance properly.

When I first started this blog, I threw myself into it much in the same way as I did veganism: headfirst and with aplomb. I was super smug with myself when I posted more than one article per week. Even though I was working full time, I still found time to write. Armed with determination, I was convinced I wouldn’t abandon this blog like I had so many others.

Cut to a few months later and… yeah. Not so frequent with the blogging. To be fair, alot’s changed in that time. I had planned on writing a big catch up post, but sitting thinking about how much has happened is giving me crampy fingers already.

I’ve started a new job, which is pretty sweet. I spent alot of last year ‘in between jobs’, and when I did work it was in sound production. I really didn’t enjoy it, and dreamed of doing something more… well, I hate to lazily toss in ‘creative’, but yeah. I was lucky that my current job started a mere week after my last one, so I had a cheeky week of downtime then it was back to it again. Since my work is in the back of beyond, in deepest Ayrshire. I’m now a car owner- it only took me six months after passing my test…!

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My other big change was getting accepted into uni. My last course didn’t qualify me for much apart from working in technical film production, so after months of endless failed applications I figured I would give education another bash. As of next week I’ll be studying for the MA Creative and Cultural Business at Glasgow Caledonian uni and, even better, I can still work around it.

Since losing our old dog Eddie last year, the house has been a bit empty. Without the sound of tippy tappy feet creeping about looking for cuddles and treats it just felt like there was a huge void. Not anymore! We adopted another lhasa apso in the form of Lemmy, and he’s settled in like he’s always been here. There’s something about having a pet that brings so much happiness and energy to a house. Plus, they’re pretty much the best little confidantes.

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Blogging has been great for getting into writing again, and so have my posts for Scotcampus. However, my dreams of being an actual, publish writer were actualised with the creation of IN BLOOM- a creative snapshot of youth culture in Glasgow and beyond. It’s quite surreal seeing my name in real, physical print. I’ve been showing off my copy to anyone who’ll listen- I’ve never spellchecked anything so thoroughly in my life and I’m actually pretty proud of it. You can support local culture and read more about it here!

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May or may not have signed a copy at the SWG3 launch party and left it lying. Clue: may have.

Last month the boy and I also went to see a pretty awesome/heartbreaking piece of film at favourite vegan haunt, Stereo. The Ghosts in Our Machine documents photographer Jo-Ann McArthur and her gut-wrenching journey as she exposes the animal face behind the food and entertainment industries. It was a pretty difficult watch, but not as in-your-face traumatic as alot of animal rights films. There are plenty of beautiful scenes as Joanne visits a friend who runs a farm sanctuary, rescuing animals deemed unfit for ‘purpose’ and giving them a chance at a life. If you’ve never seen an animal rights film, this is a really great, accessible start.

 Stereo also put on a free buffet, which was pretty amazing. I’ve never seen people dive upon a table of food so fast- well seeing we’re never really given that much of an option!

There was also a really engaging Q&A afterwards with director Liz Marshall, which made the film's impact more hard hitting and tangible.

There was also a really engaging Q&A afterwards with director Liz Marshall, which made the film’s impact more hard hitting and tangible.

Sooo… I think that’s me pretty much caught up (on everything that I can remember for now, anyway!). In between everything else I’ve also been cooking ALOT. The beauty of my work being pretty far out from anything convenient means that I’m making more of an effort to make proper dinners and take leftovers for lunch. I’ve also been working hard to perfect the recipe for vegan macaroni cheese. It’s been a hard slog  delicious mission so far and I reckon I’ve just about cracked it. Now I’m all about tarting it up- after all, the best part of mastering a basic recipe is breaking the rules and chucking in whatever takes your fancy. Especially now we’re fast approaching autumn- my FAVOURITE season. Perfect time for stodgy comfort food to keep out the chill!

I’ve got into full on rambling mode now, so I’ll wrap it up here. Here’s some foodie type pictures, because they’ve been clogging up my phone and I need to delete them so I can refill it with doggy photo spam. If I can remember the recipes, I’ll post them soon. And definitely not leave it so long in between blogs again!

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SO THESE ARE THE GREATEST THINGS EVER, EVEEERRR.

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Chipotle and chickpea falafel bean and bean stew- my post-car buying celebratory dinner. Daaaaayum.

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Got in from work one random weekday evening and there was nothing to put on my toast, so I made some houmous. Because why not.

The best thing about sick days as a child was comfort food. Not junk food, but stodgy nutrition to get me through the worst of whatever ailment was afflicting me that month (I got colds alot, as well as several nasty bouts of tonsilitis). Even as recently as last year, when I went through seemingly endless rounds of dental trauma, I wanted nothing more than Heinz tomato soup and sugary tea.

My favourite sick day comfort food though, was scrambled eggs. There was just something about it that made me instantly feel better. As much as I tried to avoid being an emotional eater, there was something about ill health that dragged me back into the habit. I hadn’t been feeling well recently- a combination of busy work times, being wiped out with a flu bug, a blocked ear, sinus problems and a late night trip to A&E. I’d also put my back out by over-exerting myself in exercise class and was generally feeling a bit bleurgh.

Sick days aren’t a luxury I can afford to take though: my current job contract is full time but temporary, and there are alot of big projects coming up that I’m taking part in. I needed something comforting, healthy and easy to make. I’d managed to make a decent attempt at roasted sweet potatoes and with mashed lentils and chickpeas- a combination which only took me about half an hour- but I wanted my sick day comfort food.

I made this in half an hour and had even less time to eat it, hence the shoddy picture. Trust me, it was pretty sweet.

I’d read countless recipes for scrambled tofu, but admittedly I was a little sceptical. Cutting it into chunks and chucking it in a pan was easy enough. But I’d made scrambled eggs so often that I wasn’t sure how adapting the technique to something else would fare. As it turns out, it wasn’t any more difficult than using eggs and was all the more delicious for it. I also swapped buttery white toast for something a little more nutritious and tossed a load of vegetables in for good measure.

Alot of recipes were pretty fancy, but I wanted to stick to the basics. I figure if I get good at making vegan versions of current favourite recipes, I can afford to start experimenting further down the line. But for now I’m keeping it simple. I was also pretty hungry when I made it so I didn’t want much fuss- I just wanted it in my face.

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Scrambled Tofu with Veggies and Mashed Avocado

  • 1 block of Cauldron Original Tofu
  • 1 wholegrain rye bagel
  • Houmous (hummus?)- any kind will do but I used plain with sun dried tomatoes because, umm, it was £1.
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 a red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped
  • A handful of chestnut mushrooms, sliced up
  • A generous glug of oil
  • A decent shoogle of spices: I used turmeric and paprika

Drain and press the tofu according to packet instructions. While it’s drying out, mash the avocado in a bowl with some salt, pepper and paprika.

Heat the oil in a pan and sautee the mushrooms, onion and pepper for a couple of minutes until they’re soft.

Once the tofu is pressed, crumble it into the pan along with the veggies and give it a right good stir, whisking it like you would scrambled eggs. Add in the turmeric and a little salt and pepper and leave it for about 8-10 minutes until it’s cooked through. Stir it every now and then to stir the oil and spices through it.

Toast the bagel and smear it with the houmous. Tip the tofu out and top it with the mashed avocado. BOOM- a mere 15-20 minutes and you’ve got a nutritious, vegetable and protein packed version of an old dairy favourite. Eat it right away because cold scrambled anything is gross.

I was really happy with the results- the tofu was nice and firm, and even when scrambled it held its texture better than regular ol’ eggs. You’d never even notice the difference.

I hate saying that I’ve ‘been too busy’ to do anything. It always comes across as self-important. However, I’ve been kept steadily busy this past week with various gigs and things, that I’ve had little turnaround time in between.

May has been utterly ridiculous with the amount of events that are going on around Glasgow: I’ve already been to see The Libertine at the Citizen’s Theatre, Clutch at the ABC and yesterday had a double bill: the matinee of Wicked at the King’s Theatre, followed by Courtney Love at night time. Not including full time work and other life ‘hings in between.

 

 

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I feel like I’ve been a bit of a fraud this week as I haven’t given much thought to cooking anything- aside from my avocado cheese pasta concoction, that is. I’ve been mostly running off of soup, toast and other easy-to-throw-together things. We did pretty well with our fruit haul at the weekend, which obviously meant I could have something chocolatey. Unfortunately, vegan chocolate is… well, it doesn’t really taste like chocolate at all. Unless you mean the cooking variety. Lindt 70% has been an utter hero in such times of confectionary crisis and womanly woe.

The plan yesterday was to go and get a nice dinner somewhere, and explore Glasgow’s many veggie-friendly options but we didn’t have much turnaround time in between shows. We decided a beer ‘n burger deal was our safest, and quickest, bet and stopped by Rufus T’s. After getting shafted over £7 for theatre wine, I was in the mood for something cheap and cheerful, and wasn’t disappointed. Making my veggie melt sandwich vegan was as easy as saying “hold the cheese”. Almost feels like a cheat, really…

I feel like I need a total kitchen restock in order to start getting into cooking properly again. Sadly mid-month, especially one which is so event heavy, is never an easy time for that. Handily I got an Amazon bargain in the form of the The Daily Vegan Planner. It’s a 12-week, day by day journal, which allows you to keep track of what you made and ate, and also how you felt about it. It seems like a really good way of staying on track, and marking any changes in health or whatnot. It’s also got a tonne of recipes and a list of about 250 vegan friendly foodstuffs… seems fairly foolproof to me!

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It’s a good thing to invest in, as well as the other books and downloaded recipes I’ve collected so far: one thing I’ve learned quickly is the importance of variety. I never thought I would say this, but I think I’m actually getting bored of soup…! Or if not bored of it, then definitely looking to out it on hiatus for a while. I always thought the third week would be pretty hard going, and I wasn’t wrong: the first week’s shiny new-ness is over, week two of casually finding my stride is done with. Unfortunately for me I’ve got half a pot of the spicy sweet potato soup taking up space in my already tiny freezer… guess I’ll be putting that hiatus on hold for a while first.

Still, the best thing to do is keep going, and not allow myself to get lazy. If I do, I’m worried that soup and I may just part ways for good.

Today marks the one week-aversary of taking on the 30 Day Vegan Pledge. It was a bit of a shaky start, considering I went into it completely unprepared. However, in the past week, I’ve found myself enjoying cooking- which, when it’s just for me, is usually a chore I avoid. My fruit and veg consumption has increased by an embarrassing amount (embarrassing considering how little I ate before), and I’ve even noticed a difference in my skin and energy levels.

After a couple of days withdrawal, I even found I didn’t miss chocolate and snacks that much. There are plenty of readily available, vegan-friendly snacks, and I never felt the urge to reach for anything naughty. (Were it not for Alpro Soya chocolate desserts, I feel this might be a totally different story). I was surprised at how many foods both were and weren’t vegan friendly: a lot of convenience soups, my usual lunchtime staple, contain milk and cream, but there are so many other options that I haven’t missed them.

Thank you, vegan gods.

I used to either skip out on breakfast, or eat something pseudo-healthy like a Go Ahead bar and sugar-laden bottled smoothies. Honestly, I had no idea how bad for you they really are. I thought they were doing me good, but they were also probably contributing the dreaded 4pm slump. Instead, I’ve seriously upped my water game and even managed to cut down on coffee. I’ve also cut down on smoking too- my one real remaining vice.

Of course, there was no way I could do this without any support and a tonne of research. I haven’t been quite as adventurous with cooking as I could’ve been, but I’ve been thinking about what I’m using more. A part of me thinks my body might go into serious meltdown from upping my fruit and vegetable intake, and that maybe I should’ve eased myself in more gently. I figured there was no sense in doing anything by halves- I’d have been as well staying vegetarian!

I ordered the PETA starter guide and, after looking into a load of different books, got Becoming Vegan. The PETA guide is really good for helpful ideas to get started, and offers a wealth of information on further reading. It also details the horrific treatment suffered by farm animals- even those used for dairy products and not meat.

It confirmed for me why it’s important to stick to the challenge, even when I feel like I’m hitting a wall. Becoming Vegan has been a worthwhile purchase as well, and it’s easy enough to dip into. It reads a bit like a textbook, and can be a bit matter of fact. It gives a good overview of vegan and vegetarian diets, from their earliest forms to today’s more widely accepted, mainstream diets.

So overall, not a bad start to the challenge… I feel like I could be more adventurous with cooking, and I actually feel like I’ve been eating more than when I started. At least it’s all good things though- it pacifies the guilt a wee bit! I’ve noticed a decrease in tiredness during the day, and a definite improvement in my skin and energy levels. My system is still getting used to the change I reckon, but in the long run I’m hoping it’ll pay off… and if it sees me cut down in smoking even more then all the better!