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Veganuary: The first shop & the first meal

So, recipe book in hand, it is time to crack on with Veganuary and buy some vegan ingredients.

I’ve picked out a couple of recipes from Thug Kitchen’s book “Eat Like You Give a F**k” – Grilled Eggplant with Soba Noodles and Coconut-Lime Rice with Red Beans and Mango – see, I told you they sound nice!

Our supermarket order has gone from including loads of ham, chicken, mince, sausages, yoghurt, cheese and prawns, to featuring items such as almond milk, sesame seeds, roasted sesame seed oil, buckwheat soba noodles, rice vinegar, dairy-free coconut milk spread, two kinds of tofu and FOUR kinds of nuts – cashews, almonds, pistachios and peanuts. There’s plenty more to be done, but it is a start.

I feel like I haven’t really bought any proper food, and I’m not sure how the kids will feel when I replace our normal margarine with this vegan option. But, it is all part of the process. I feel like I am taking another important step in the right direction.

The plan for now is to practise cooking some vegan meals between now and January – a) so it isn’t a total shock to the system and b) so we have some clue what to eat and aren’t having to cook new meals from scratch every night. 

I feel like we are approaching this in the right way. Thinking ahead. Doing our research and being as well-prepared as possible for Veganuary. I’m not sure it will make it any easier or any less of a challenge, but it keeps the excitement and momentum up and means we get to try some random new foods. What’s not to love?

The next step is to actually try and cook a vegan meal…


Grilled Aubergine with Soba Noodles

Thug Kitchen
Thug Kitchen, aka my first vegan recipe book

A recipe from the Thug Kitchen book. It sounds really nice. Fairly simple. Nice and quick. And I like aubergine, so what could possibly go wrong?

First slight hitch: most of the ingredients are measured in cups. Cups of what? There is a handy conversion table, but it is a bit of a pain having to convert all the quantities. Is it an American thing? Why not just list the millilitres?

Anyway, I overcame that small annoyance and ploughed on. You start by marinading the aubergine. Sounds good, except said marinade seemed to involve a hell of a lot of rice vinegar. I always trust in the recipe the first time round, and tweak it when I next make it, if needed, but I was sceptical from the off with this one. You then cook the noodles, before adding sesame seeds and some more rice vinegar, just for good measure.

You then grill the aubergine and add it to the noodles with some basil.

When you look at it like that, it is weird that it went so wrong.

I’ve never cooked soba noodles before. I followed the instructions, but I think I should have used a bigger pan or something. The water went a disgusting shade of grey, the noodles just stuck together and didn’t seem to cook properly. It was a bit of a disaster. In the end, I’m not sure if I over- or undercooked them, or just destroyed them with my ignorance. The texture didn’t seem quite right, if I’m honest.

And then there is the rice vinegar. Turns out you should follow your intuition rather than recipes. Way too much rice vinegar. It was pretty much all you could taste. Which is a shame, because I really like aubergine. I’m starting to wonder if I bought the right type of rice vinegar. Apparently there is Chinese rice vinegar and Japanese rice vinegar. Who knew?

So to summarise…

Not the start I was hoping for, admittedly. We’ll chalk that one under “room for improvement”. I would like to try it again and next time delegate the cooking of the noodles to my husband and only use a quarter of the specified rice vinegar in the recipe. There is hope there. It just needs a bit of tweaking!

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