Sunday thoughts: Vegan MoFo edition

Sunday thoughts are back! I hope you are excited as I am about this new development!

Although I will hasten to add that they may not be a weekly occurrence as they used to be, and that they may occur on days other than Sundays. I am trying to keep this space fun and intuitive, but I want to keep hold of the sense that MoFo gave me of having a little more thought woven into my brain cells than I may initially think.

So without further ado, some thoughts on September, these first few days of October, and my first Vegan MoFo experience!

Roast Crown Prince squash

Thought for food

I won’t hide that I am a little disappointed in my efforts – or lack thereof – to produce innovative and/or beautiful dishes for VeganMoFo. I don’t really have any excuse other than my desire to avoid leftover anxiety: cooking dishes to blog about often results in failed experiments that have to be eaten and, particularly when you live in a household of two with simple tastes and little social life, extra leftovers and excess produce that doesn’t fit into anyone’s usual routine of consumption. In other words, if after a long day we are both craving a simple dinner of roast veggies and sausages, it will be of little comfort that we have leftover citrus-endive salad or kale cookies going stale. It’s just not a way of cooking that works for us, at the moment.

However, it was super fun – and certainly more in line with my style and motivations for writing – to reminisce on dishes I have cooked and eaten, usually with others, to look back on past food phases and rituals. Some of my favourite posts to write were:

  • Day 1: Breakfast – I think I probably could have written an entire Vegan MoFo’s worth of blog posts solely on the topic of breakfast (and the ghosts of breakfasts past)!
  • Day 6: Recreating a Restaurant Meal – a real process of a post, since I actually set out to make my excuses that I had no restaurant meal to recreate (this one actually got almost entirely written down one vein of thought and then deleted)!
  • Day 15: Barack Obama Visiting – yes, I do wish I had had more photos or actually invited people round to share the menu, but it was fun thinking what staple crowd-pleasing dishes would go well together, create a complete and satisfying meal, and how feasible it would be logistically to actually serve them…
  • Day 23: Autumn Equinox Eats – yep, the one that took me by surprise! It was good to write with no expectations.

Vegan Jusrol croissants

But of course Vegan MoFo isn’t just about me – it’s a community event. So some of my favourite MoFo foods from the vegan blogging world:

  • Day 4: Favourite Weird Food Combo – I loved these posts so much! It’s wonderful seeing how varied all our tastes are, and hearing the stories behind bloggers’ adoption of their favourite unconventional food pairing. I discovered a new blog through this prompt that I now follow, and I can totally get on board with Olivia’s bagel and hash brown sandwich.
  • Day 10: Something Blue – I am so intrigued by Mihl’s poppy seed bars and even more intrigued by her pumpernickel-based dessert.
  • Day 21: What You Would Bring to a Desert Island: I do love all of Amey’s posts, but I was particularly excited to see that she also picked bread and chocolate for two of her three unlimited desert island foods! It was really interesting to see how other bloggers dealt with this question – Zsu had a very different approach to me!

Chocolate bar bite

Food for thought

September was a big learning month for me… but while you’d think starting my Masters offered the greatest learning opportunity, I feel like I picked up more fun facts (so far) from the MoFo experience than I have from structured learning:

  • Day 10: Something Blue mainly taught me how for some unexplained reason we have chosen to call everything blue when it is, in fact, purple, but I did learn a little about red cabbage juice being an acid/base indicator (and about how shockingly inedible sodium bicarbonate is when not baked into delicious cake). Interestingly, I wondered if spirulina (or do I mean chlorella?), which has a blueish green tint, could be combined with something to bring out the blue pigment, but thought I was being moronic. Turns out, there is a product that exists that has done exactly that: see Heirloom Commons’ post on the topic.
  • Both Day 11: Focusing on a Nutrient and Day 24: What Arnold Schwarzenegger Would Eat If He Were Vegan were right up my alley, with the former giving me an excuse to peruse lists of micronutrient contents of various plant foods and then slotting those in together to form theoretical magnesium-rich snacks and meals (think mental Tetris with food and no panic-inducing countdowns), and the latter encouraging me to find out a little more about a pioneering bodybuilder’s protein-rich diet and seeing whether it could be veganised – I only wish I had had more time for the latter, but it’s probably a good thing for all of us that I didn’t.
  • Since I didn’t initially really know what the Autumn Equinox was, I really enjoyed reading the various posts on Day 23: Autumn Equinox Eats that explained the meaning of the festival and various traditions and rituals around it.
  • Day 24: What Donal Trump Would Eat If He Were Vegan was a) hilarious and b) really informative in the quirky, slightly pointless way that I like – I never knew humble pie was an actual thing and that humble meant entrails! (nor did I know, until right now, that “an apron” actually came from “a napron” – and it makes me wonder how much our language will have changed in another few hundred years, assuming there are still living beings to communicate)
  • On a less tangible level, many of the other posts were a lesson in how much more thought I – and, I suppose, all of us – can be capable of when given an incentive to squeeze it out. Like any physical exercise, often getting started is the hard part, but once the training gear is on and the muscles are warmed up, it is nowhere near as insurmountable a task as it originally seemed – and once that session is done, it paves the way for easier and more successful subsequent sessions.

Rocky road cookie

In non-MoFo news:

  • The first article on my course’s reading list I chose to read was the position stand of the International Society of Sports Nutrition on protein. I found it interesting that while they do advocate a fairly significantly higher protein intake than the RDA of 0.8g/kg bodyweight (and in some cases would recommend consuming up to 2.5 times that amount, in fact), they make it clear that it is preferable to obtain these levels from whole food sources. I found the discussion of the process by which fatigue in endurance exercise might arise – and, more importantly, through which branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) might delay it – even more fascinating, but I won’t bore you with those now.
  • This TED talk on the story of the inventor of modern pain relief is well worth 13 minutes of your time – I absorbed it while hanging out the washing one day – as it is refreshing and startling and inspiring. I always like stories of unwitting success and an unassuming individual’s passion.
  • In September I read both The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns and really got a lot from this inspiring and amusing TED talk by Sakena Yacoobi: How I Stopped The Taliban From Shutting Down My School.

On that note, I’m back to reading the ISSN’s position stand on caffeine, so I wish you a peaceful Sunday afternoon or evening and an enthusiastic start to the week!

Richmond Park deer

Vegan MoFo 2015: Day 29 – Vegan road trip supplies

So… There’s not really a good way to put this, but I’ve never been on a road trip.

Vegan MoFo 2015

I mean, I’ve gone from A to B in a car, with other people, and it has usually involved snacks, but not like a proper road trip where you PLAN stuff on the journey. So snacks are usually pretty low-key, and usually in small enough quantities that they are all gone by the time we pull out of the driveway (yeah, I get really excited about travel snacks). Continue reading

Vegan MoFo 2015: Day 28 – Tacos vs. Burritos

Vegan MoFo has been a great study in how my attention, prioritisation and motivation work.
Vegan MoFo 2015

When trying to draft a few posts in advance in August, I jumped on some prompts eagerly and finished them in one breath with a flourish, whereas some started out enthusiastically and then got painstakingly dragged out in quarter-hour increments. Continue reading

Vegan MoFo 2015: Day 26 – Snowdrift!

A couple months ago, on a rainy Sunday, Ben and I started a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle. It has taken half our dining table hostage since then, and mostly we are too scared to sit down to work on it because last time we did, we looked up with headaches, cricks in our necks and two hours less in each of our lives. To be honest, we mostly find pieces when we’re not trying to look for them; we glance at it and halfheartedly try two pieces sitting next to each other, and miraculously they just click into place.

Vegan MoFo 2015 Continue reading

Vegan MoFo 2015: Day 25 – Favourite cuisine

One of my favourite ever treats when I was little was to go to the Chinese restaurant with my mum.

Vegan MoFo 2015

Every single visit, for years, I would order the same thing: plain steamed rice, which I would eat with soy sauce, and a Sprite lemonade. For dessert, coconut ice cream served in half a coconut shell. Every. Single. Time. Continue reading