food for thought ~writing/cooking/photographing food (vegetarian)

Reply Thu 8 Jan, 2009 11:05 pm

I'm into cooking vegetarian meals

Also the idea of writing about cooking, being in the kitchen - stuff like that

i have also started taking photographs of food (abstract/colour)
and i like the idea of doing a bit of research about veggies, fruits - where they come from, what they're good for.

Also, i'm into alternative medicines and herbal teas

I'm looking forward to starting a thread that isn't about politics or the news.




above - carrots, tomatoes (on the vine, still in their packet) and freeze-dried coffee granules

I'm no expert but learning
i hope to hear back from other non-meat eaters (or meat eaters who don't mind leaving meat out of it)

back soon
(sleep first)

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Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 04:56 am
Yay! Smile

I'll be back.
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 08:43 am

Okay - i think it's very important that i be straight with you.
I am as interested in writing as i am in cooking. Sometimes I cook and write at the same time. I have discovered that 'patience' is a great commodity to have in the kitchen. I keep a notebook and pen handy. A bunch of CDs. A glass of wine. I take my time.
Time i have plenty of.


Why Vegetarian?

I've noticed that there is quite a bit of prejudice towards vegetarians, which i find mind-boggling. I'm not an animal rights man, or the type to try and change someone else's eating habits. It's a personal thing.
It's quite simple - i don't deal too well with the sight and smell of meat.
In the past I've worked in medical units that dealt with flesh wounds, shattered bones and burns. No offence to anyone who eats meat (and i do occasionally, when i feel i really need it, eat lamb chops) but the sight of large cuts of sliced flesh can really do bad things to my brain. And I have had to leave someone's house before because they were cooking pork. If you've ever smelled burnt human flesh, you will understand.

Becoming more or less vegetarian has been gradual for me, because basically, up until about 5 years ago, I was a bacon and eggs kind of bloke (and i still eat eggs- and fish). I could probably cook you a fairly decent English roast (yes...with Yorkshire puddings) - but vegetables were like a side dish, often over cooked.

Now, vegetables are something I have been known to swoon over. And it isn't just their fantastic colours and flavours, but actually handling vegetables pulled from the earth, or picked from the vine, brings a kind of peacefulness with it.
Maybe, secretly, deep down, I am an artist.
I have the urge to paint these bright colours onto canvas (in fact, I think i might do that).

If you suffer from PTSD (and i know there are quite a few here who do) there is a good chance that you have digestive problems.. IBS (irritable bowl syndrome) is very common indeed in people who have survived some trauma. It is very high in adults who were abused children.

I have managed, through my diet, to rid myself of the worst symptoms of IBS. I'll go into that in some depth later, but simple things, such as removing the seeds in tomatoes before you eat them, can have a major effect, believe me.

Of course, being vegetarian AND having IBS is awkward, because eating pulses, seeds and nuts (high fibre) can be a problem, but there are soluble fibre foods that can act as counter balances. Everyone is different, i know.

You Are What You Eat

When i was kid growing up, dinner was often a bland looking, over-cooked pile of uninteresting mush. And dinner-time a nightmare of psychological warfare.
I never saw eating as a pleasurable thing to do.
I never imagined that one day i would be standing in my own kitchen thinking about carrots, and all the possible ways there are to cook and eat those carrots. (BTW, carrots are on the IBS 'good' list).
Last night i peeled two carrots and chopped them into rough strips - then cooked them very gently in oive oil with mixed herbs and black pepper.
Later, i added thinly sliced leek.
I ate this with rice and spicy Quorn pieces.

Quorn - high in protein but not too high in fibre (as mushrooms are) is on the NHS (nation health service) list of IBS 'good foods' and has become my main alternative to meat.
To be honest i've only cooked tofu once and it was a disaster - so if anyone can post me a well tested recipe for tofu - please do. I'm willing to give it another go.


Often, I read about a recipe but know it is beyond what i can afford weekly to spend on keeping myself fed. I live on a small pension and disability allowance. Okay, i'm not badly off... I can still buy wine and the occasional tub of Cornish ice cream, but I can't afford to buy what i call 'unnecessary luxuries'

For example. I like 'thousand island dressing' to eat with fish.
Where i live it costs a fortune (the way i get through it).

Here's how i make it.

Equal amounts of tomato sauce and salad cream
Black pepper and lemon juice.

Simple, cheap, and superior to the bottled stuff in my opinion.

At present, being a recluse and cut off from town, i have supplies delivered to me. Some come from local shops, others from local farmers and i have some very kind neighbours who often let me have organically grown veg for cheap.

Money isn't everything. Being creative with the basics is much more fulfilling.

Learning As I Go

True, there is a hell of a lot for me to learn. For example i don't know how to make pastry, or cakes that don't come out the oven looking like someone stamped on them.
I would like to make more things out of oats, potatoes, rice...
I don't have tv - so i don't get to watch cooking programnes and i don't want to look for recipes on the net right now - if i start to browse i know i'll end up on the news sites trying to get my head around the latest humanitarian crisis or atrocity.

So, its just me and a few books - and a2k of course. Some of you have passed on recipes to me before and it's obvious that there is a lot of experience out there waiting to be tapped - so please... as i stumble along with this, do feel free to add your thoughts, recipes, ideas.

The Writing Part

To be honest - the writing part is what it's all about.

more soon

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Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 08:44 am

Great! Smile
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Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 03:47 pm



Garlic is rich in sulphurous substances, perhaps the most important being allicin, which is good for reducing 'bad' (LDL) cholesterol in the blood and increasing the 'good' (HDL) cholesterol. It also lowers blood fats called triglycerides. Allicin has also been known to lower blood pressure.
Because sulphurous substances help stop the replication of bacteria, it inhibits the action of both viruses and fungi.

Garlic is said to reduce the risk of heart disease, as well as bacterial and viral infections.

These antibacterial effects were first discovered in the early 19th century during an outbreak of infectious fever - English priests caught the fever but the French priests, who ate garlic every day, remained healthy.

Garlic was also used as an antibiotic in WWI and (along with honey) literally saved life and limb.

One precaution is anyone on anti-coagulant drugs. If you are and you eat a lot of garlic, you should mention this to your doctor - as it is known to reduce the 'stickiness' of blood. In fact there is research being done that suggests garlic can be used in medicine, to help stop blood clots forming.


The best garlic i have ever eaten was French, smoked garlic - mixed with herb butter and eaten on toast - wow.

I will post some garlicky recipes up soon.

Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 03:58 pm
Good idea for a thread, Endy.

I probably have a visible cloud of garlic fumes over my head as I walk past anyone.

I've taken photos of food for years, and have long considered doing a painting series on food. Plenty of artists have done still lives with fruits, vegetables, table settings, and so on.. and food photography can be interesting. Me, I'm thinking of doing paintings of ... pizzas I've made. Alas, I'm all talk and no action, eating the pizza before any thought of taking a photo for later reference.
Reply Fri 9 Jan, 2009 05:58 pm
I love that picture of garlic.

I was a much stricter vegetarian when I was a teenager but, ironically, I probably wasn't eating as well as I do now. Why? Well, because takeout cheese pizza, while technically vegetarian, isn't exactly a health food.

I agree that there is some prejudice vs. vegetarians. I have had more than one person either wince at my choices or ask me, point blank, if I was some sort of eco freak or whatever. Heh, no. I just don't want to eat meat. Why do people act as if that's unAmerican or whatever?

I did have one Summer where I was essentially vegan. I dropped a lot of weight and looked and felt awful, but I also was not trying to eat in a particularly healthful manner. It was more that I had very little food $$ so I subsisted on a lot of brown rice. I remember eggs making me very sick; it was just too much.

These days I'm what you'd probably call a flexitarian. I don't eat pork or beef, and haven't had beef since I was 13 (no pork because it's no kosher). But I do eat poultry and fish. I find making good meals is easier with those choices, plus they offer good variety. And, I think there are things that you get from fish that you really don't get elsewhere, or they have to be essentially manufactured. Which is kinda against the point of a lot of vegetarianism.

By going back to a lot more cooking, I've dropped weight and saved money. Restaurant meals are generally bad for you. They should be a treat, and should be good ones that won't harm you too much, as opposed to an added food group eaten every day or so, and of poor quality. I don't advocate spending a gazillion dollars for a salad the size of a dime but I also think supersizing and fast food are the paving stones on the road to an early grave, visited seldom if at all. I've been down that road too many times and, frankly, it doesn't interest me any more.

Okay I'm babbling. Smile
Reply Mon 12 Jan, 2009 12:22 am

Hi Ossobuco

i really hope i get to see some of your photographs.
As for the painting bit - do you already paint? What medium? I am thinking of using oils, but am nervous about beginning - in case i'm crap!
Reply Mon 12 Jan, 2009 12:39 am
Hi Jespah

Great to read your post - it made a lot of sense to me - and made me feel better about not eating out. i think being a 'flexitarian' is sensible. I often eat what my body seems to want at the time. i trust my instincts to know what is needed.

i also eat fish and agree that it is unique.
i don't eat poultry anymore - not really sure why.

And please don't worry about 'babbling' ....(i do it all the time)
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Reply Mon 12 Jan, 2009 12:58 am
okay - i hope you don't all fall about laughing when you read these recipes thinking - jeez, i've been cooking that one for years!

Anyway, here is one that was passed onto me

Aubergines Baked with Garlic Sott'olio

serves 4

2 large aubergines

4 large cloves garlic

150ml (1/4 pint) of olive oil

juice of half a lemon

sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 200c/400f/gas mark 6.
Cut the stalks off the aubergines. Peel the garlic cloves and cut them lengthways, thinly

Pierce aubergines all over withknife and push garlic into the slits.

Place aubergines directly onto oven shelf. Do not oil.

Bake for 15 mins or until skins wrinkle and become soft to touch.
Remove from oven and let stand for a few minutes

Slice length ways. Dress with oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Serve hot or slightly warm
0 Replies
Reply Mon 12 Jan, 2009 01:05 am
Hi Endy

I was a committed vegetarian for close to 20 years. Don't ask me why I lapsed ..... (a long & complicated story! Sigh.).

To make vegetarian food interesting & also healthy, on an ongoing basis, I found it very instructive to investigate & embrace vegetarian food from many different cultures ...
So I became very familiar with the vegetarian food of India, SE Asia, Italy & also the so-called "alternative" (mainly western) cultures out there. This meant a lot of work ... & a lot of jars of different beans, etc, plus regularly bought ingredients like tofu , pasta, different varieties of rice, knowledge of herbs, etc, etc... plus a good working knowledge of spices & flavourings.

I think (having been on both sides of the fence) that good, healthy vegetarian cookery requires considerably more skill, ongoing commitment & creativity than the alternative. But I do fully understand your motivation. In many ways I wish I was able to continue my commitment.
Reply Mon 12 Jan, 2009 01:13 am

Olga - good to hear from you - hope you will add a recipe or two ( i know you love your garlic! )

I'm zonked right now - need sleep - but will write again soon.
Reply Mon 12 Jan, 2009 01:25 am
I have heaps of vego recipes up my sleave, Endy!

Just ask when you're interested in something in particular!

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Reply Mon 12 Jan, 2009 04:27 pm
I have never been a true vegetarian. I have spells of vegetables, fish, and milk only, but relapse very quickly. Right now, the best thing for me would be a strict vegetarian diet, but due to the pressures of everyday life, it never happens. At breakfastI always have a certain cereal (made from sprouted grains), with nuts, flax seeds, raw honey on top, with milk, six days a week. On Sunday, it's fried eggs, with biscuits and sometimes bacon.

Lunch, I often take a frying pan, melt in butter, sprinkled with sea salt and black pepper, and cut in small bits of garlic and onion. I drop in carrot pieces and stir occasionally for a bit. Then a potato gets cut up and dropped in. As both carrots and potatoes become soft, I turn off the heat, just as I am sprinkling in chopped up broccoli and something else that's green, such as Kale. Let it sit about ten minutes.

If tired and out of the mood for cooking, I have sardines made up various ways. Often a glass of freshly juiced carrots, with a bit of beet added.

Dinner is my undoing. My wife has no sympathy with my quirks. I eat beef and pork quite often, because its what she prefers. I do eat chicken frequently, by choice.
Reply Mon 26 Jan, 2009 03:29 pm
edgarblythe wrote:

Lunch, I often take a frying pan, melt in butter, sprinkled with sea salt and black pepper, and cut in small bits of garlic and onion. I drop in carrot pieces and stir occasionally for a bit. Then a potato gets cut up and dropped in. As both carrots and potatoes become soft, I turn off the heat, just as I am sprinkling in chopped up broccoli and something else that's green, such as Kale. Let it sit about ten minutes.

thanks edgar - i had this tonight (with a sprinkle of herbs) it was delicious.
I never thought of frying potatoes from raw, but they were REALLY good.
Reply Mon 26 Jan, 2009 06:14 pm
I was raised on fried potatoes and pinto beans.
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Reply Wed 28 Jan, 2009 08:44 pm
I'm not much of a veggie writer, but I'm a veggie cook and I am a mad fruit and veggie photographer. I take more pictures of fruit, veggies, my dogs and wrought iron than just about anything else.

I've got online albums full of photos from trips to various markets. I really like to take photos of baskets of fresh fruits and veggies and then cropping them so that it's like veggie wallpaper. My friend The Empress has become quite accustomed to hanging around while I decide which angle I want on the green beans in Kensington market.

Containers of incense also make for interesting photos.
Reply Wed 28 Jan, 2009 11:28 pm
I'm a veggie cook and I am a mad fruit and veggie photographer

Well fancy that, ehBeth! I just discovered something new about you! Very Happy So are you going to post some of your photographs here? I'd like to see some, if you feel inclined to post them.
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2009 09:03 pm
some nice veggie porn Shocked


a lil (or not so little) sample


Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2009 09:44 pm
and from http://viewfrombehind.blogspot.com/2005/10/beijing-breslau-oporto.html


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