Tag Archives: veggies

MY LAST VEGGIE ACHIEVEMENT: HOMEMADE SEITAN

In one of my first posts, I talked about the pain of being a veggie in Spain, and explain you my situation concerning my choice. It’s been more than one year and a half since I wrote this, and even though the situation is more or less the same, I reckon there’s been some improvements.

To start with, it’s been exactly two years already since I decided to change my eating habits and become vegetarian . Why? There were many reasons I could list, I’ll only mention that despite being a cold meat lover, this is ham, chorizo (Spanish paprika sausage) or black sausage, once I realized, thanks to having an upset stomach after a brunch, that I could live without chorizo, I decided to quit. I’m glad I did, my digestions have improved, and I feel quite fine.

 In these two years I’ve learned some tips, discovered nice veggie and vegan restaurants in the city, recovered certain ingredients I didn’t use to like, and cooked new meals. I’m not an expert but I’m improving, and wow! It’s impressive to discover awesome combinations of vegetables and other ingredients you never thought of, such as the lentils stewed with cabbage, carrot, mushrooms and cayenne.

Not everything is positive. As vegetarianism is still seen as something fashionable practiced by a minority, some not very common products found in herbalists’ such as tofu, seitan, different type of cereals, and special kinds of flour, and other elaborated food, are extremely expensive. It’s a shame!

I’ve been participating many years in music forums, and there’s one in particular which started this topic of discussion related to vegetarianism and veganism, as seems that there are some people in the same condition. We usually exchange recipes, advise tips of any kind, share addresses of restaurants and post pictures of our cooking achievements. There’s a guy who’s starting a vegan catering business, and he’s sort of our veggie spiritual leader. We were chatting once and suggested I should prepare my own seitan, because its process of cooking was real easy.

Weeks ago I started buying all the stuff required, but I had the idea it’d be long and frustrating, according to some comments telling the taste wasn’t good or texture was crap, and felt a bit lazy about it, plus  I’m avoiding cooking much lately because the heat is quite discouraging and uncomfortable, to be honest. Till last night.

I had the need of doing something productive and different, thus I recovered the recipe this guy, Manolo, had sent me back in the day. Preparing and kneading  the dough and then make the balls took me about 20minutes, and then it had to be cooked with stock for 45 minutes. It was too easy I was positive something was going wrong and I had forgotten some step.

Nevertheless  I was gladly surprised by the good results. The balls were very tasty and juicy, which was the most important issue to deal with, because I want to eat something I really like. Having achieved that, my next concern is to get the balls a little bit more compact in the future, but guess perfectioning is just a matter of time and practise, same as when I started cooking risotto.

Some of you probably haven’t the slightest idea about what seitan is , nor what it is made of. Seitan is the substitute for meat, in the veggie/vegan world. It’s very tasty and not only the color but also the texture, have resemblance. It’s made of wheat gluten (protein), garlic powder, breadcrumbs, with spices, soy sauce and vegetable soup. It’s very nutritious, and depending on the origin it’s made, there are different varieties. Check the Wiki and you’ll see.

The conclusion of this experiment is positive, positive in the mood for a continuity. Considering the whole process took  about an hour (70min I’d say), and analyzing efforts and costs, it’s worth cooking it myself at home, quantities are large enough for several days, and you can divide the balls so they can be frozen. So… Yeah, thumbs up! There are not many cons if you move yourself fine in the kitchen. You should see mine, it’s very small, but I’ve learned to manage, and it’s enough for me.

We’ve got used to half and fully processed food, because it’s a fact modern times require saving time on behalf of certain activities, however, and especially concerning food, there are a bunch of stuff we could elaborate ourselves, away from industrial procedures, using better quality ingredients, improving our healthy habits and finally saving lots of money.

C’mon people, let’s put on the apron and start some mayhem in the kitchen! At the end of the day you’ll feel proud of yourself, I promise.

BEING VEGGIE IN SPAIN IS A REAL PAIN


I decided to give up eating meat approximately six months ago. I hate fish, so it wasn’t such a difficult decision. Reasons are several, some more serious and others stupid. Gotta admit I love meat, in fact, I’m a Spanish red sausage diehard fan, but this was one of the many changes I’ve gone through lately. I don’ regret this at all, in fact, I feel healthier, and got thinner (ok, barely eating for a couple of months helped me losing some kgs as well), something I really needed as now I feel lighter and got more energy. You know one of the most typical things happening when you’re very settled down is that it’s easy to win weight, it might not be bad for some, but for me this had started to affect my self esteem.
 
Being veggie does not necessarily imply you become healthier, you can eat as much pizza and pasta as you used to, abuse on sauces to dress up some tasteless tofu or soy burgers. In my case, I admit I’m not eating properly, living alone makes me feel lazy for cooking, and don’t spend so much time at home as to prepare very elaborated meals.
 
Here is when the real problem arises, when you’re working and have to move to the closest bar or restaurant to buy something to eat, to find they just can offer omelette or cheese sandwiches. Of course I’m talking about regular places, things change when you go to more modern joints. Still I’m shocked there are not veggie meals in fast food chain restaurants yet. I remember back in my London days, 11 years ago already, you could find super cheap veggie burgers for just 90p, even cheaper than the classic cheese burger! When I was skint this became my feeding.


 
You can enjoy the experience. Go to your neighborhood regular bars and ask for something veggie. This happened to a friend of mine who tried to buy me something different. Conversation went like this:
 
–      Hi, What do you have for a veggie sandwich?
–      Well, I could prepare a mayonnaise, lettuce, chicken sandwich.
–      Oh! thanks, but I need something that doesn’t have fish or meat.
–      Sorry, I can offer you cheese or omelette. What about tuna? Tuna is not fish, is it?
–      [Forget about it] Can I get a sandwich with cheese and tomato please?
 
Vegetarianism seems more a fashion than a way of life here in Spain. People tend to include veggies and macrobiotics in the same group. I don’t think this is correct, and “wiseguys” in the business are charging so much money for tofu burgers or soy stuff, they should be ashamed. Haven’t you noticed lots of healthy food and herbalist’s shops have hugely increased in number lately? These are very profitable establishments. EUR 3-4, for just two tasteless burgers is abusive, and I’m not buying natural nor fresh food, I’m talking about processed tofu burgers, c’mon!
 
This can also apply to people allergic to gluten, they have to pay more for suitable food. This is complete nonsense. Now, people are more concerned regarding this, but it’s taken a hell of a time to assume this is a very extended illness affecting anyone.
 
Many of you might say “Well, Toi, it’s your choice, fuck off!!”. I don’t think I do complain about much stuff, in fact I don’t really like this veggie food, I find it particularly boring, but still,  feel the need to express my discontent for the way something different  is considered either something snob or marginal, you name it. I don’t want to eat fish nor meat, but don’t think I gotta pay more for this decision, that’s all. A bit of wider variety wouldn’t hurt anyone.
 
My next target is to concentrate on cooking again and try to learn to prepare my own hamburgers and other stuff. I’m quite good with saucepans and ovens, I already cook tasty veggie stuff, TASTY, I reckon, I think I will publish some of my fav recipes so you will believe me: onion cakes with mustard, cheddar cheese sausages, carrot cakes, quiches, risotto…Wanna be my guest?