MiniMoFo: Creating Warmth

January’s MiniMoFo theme is Creating Warmth. Good timing for me because one of my new obsessions involves doing just that. It all starts with a flashback. Christmas morning and we were opening gifts. Kate had ordered my presents from Amazon, complete with gift wrap. One was book shaped and the other was big and rattled and I was convinced it was one of the board games on my wish list. It wasn’t.

Instead I got three of these jars with Sterikap lids. Perfect for fermenting. I was instantly filled with warm fuzzies. You see Kate hates ferments, she hates the smell of ferments, but here she was, buying me these jars so I could do it in style. With less of a smell. I think that was one of her main considerations. Immediately I started wondering what I could ferment. And then it hit me. If Kate wasn’t going to eat what I was fermenting anyway why not use something I know she hates: chillies. A copy of Fiery Ferments by Kirsten K. Shockey and Christopher Shockey was soon making its way towards me.

It’s a fabulous book. It’s friendly and approachable but still detailed and technical enough to give you good results. I really enjoyed the section ‘Hot and Spicy B.C. (Before Chillies)’ and the pre-chilli recipes. The discussion of all the different techniques humans have used to add heat to their food is both fascinating and mouthwatering. We’ll get back to that later. The first ferment I tried was the Basic Pico de Gallo Starter.

The idea here is that you ferment everything but the tomatoes. That way you have the base ready to go and only need to chop a few tomatoes to mix in when you need your salsa fix. Usually when I make Pico de Gallo it either goes off before I can eat it all myself or I end up with lots of odd half bunches of coriander and diced onions left in the fridge. Apart from a few tomatoes, everything is preserved in the ferment. So I can make my little single portion of salsa whenever I want.

I also made the green peppercorn mustard. I love mustard, especially the grainy kind and I was intrigued by the addition of green peppercorns. They really make it sing. It has a clear, fresh taste and a gentle heat that sits on the tongue. I think there will be sausages in my future, served on a baguette and draped with more mustard than is probably advisable.

As you can probably tell I’m having a lot of fun with my new jars and book. I have a dozen more recipes dog eared to try. Just need to find more chillies.

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Tried and Tested: New Vegan Ready Meal Options at Waitrose.

The theme for mini mofo (the miniature, monthly spin off from the vegan month of food) is lazy. Which is fantastic. What a time to be alive for the lazy vegan in Torquay. We can buy our lunch from The Kind Grind, order pizza or ring for an Indian. Just because we can’t be arsed doesn’t mean we’re forced to eat hummus. No, I eat hummus because I choose to eat hummus. Still there are a few gaps in the market. For instance, what do you do on nights when you have enough energy to turn on the oven but not awake enough for food prep? Well now we have some new ready meal options.

3 bean chilli

Waitrose announced a new range of ready meals for vegetarians that included, for the first time in the UK, meat from the Vegetarian Butcher. They’ve started to arrive in the local branch on St Mary Church Road so it’s time to see what this means for vegans. For starters it means options! Choices. You can have a Rainbow Vegetable Stew, a Green Thai Curry, Three Bean Chilli and Couscous, or Vegetarian Chilli with Rice. Each weigh in at £3. We went for the Green Thai Curry and The Rainbow Vegetable Stew.

green thai

Desperate to get our hands on some of that Vegetarian Butcher meat we went for the Green Thai Curry. The chicken did have an incredible texture, appearance and flavour. it wasn’t exactly like chicken but its the closest I’ve ever seen. Very impressive. The rest of the curry was a bit meh. We both found that our curry was full of big chinks of chicken and big chunks of bamboo shoot but it only had three or four small pieces of french bean. It made it seem really unbalanced. The sauce also seemed really heavy to me and could really have used some crunch french beans to lighten it up.

rainbowstew

The Rainbow Stew, in contrast, was full of veggies. Mostly squash, bits of beetroot and kale to round out the rainbow. It was all served in a lovely tomato sauce with gorgeous little lentils in their to fill you up. For my taste the vegetable were a bit under done. Textbook al dente, but I generally want more of a melt in the mouth quality in a stew. The variety of texture, flavour, and – of course – colour from the different veggie worked well.

All in all I’d eat either of them again, though I might wait for a sale. I felt a little let down, though that might just be my expectations. These are ready meals after all. Keeping in mind that they are ready meals, they are good ready meals. Worth stashing in the freezer for a rainy day.