Meat-free: Week 32

After going ‘cold-turkey’ and excluding meat and seafood from my meals in January, I’ve managed to last 32 weeks!

I’ve been able to try out foods I’d never usually go for, or eat foods that I thought I hated. Tofu being one of them.

Over these months, I’ve learned that I really only miss one animal food group: seafood. I miss prawns, I miss lobster, I miss sea bass, I miss my mum’s fried yam with pepper sauce and mackerel. The pepper sauce just isn’t the same without fish!

I think I’ll be returning to seafood once in a while, but not too often because this meatless lifestyle has been very agreeable with my bank account.

The challenge of not eating meat and seafood was easier when I was living away from home (in a place with not much variety). But now that I’m back in London, there are just so many restaurants and food markets I can visit – right on my doorstep.

The difference this time is that I’ll approach these places to eat with an open mind. Last year, you’d never catch me eating at a vegan restaurant – in fact, I was definitely turning my nose up at them. But now, I can say I’m that little bit more adventurous, and a lot more willing to try out different cuisines.


Meat-free: Week 16

I’ve made it to week 16!

These last few months have been very interesting. I’ve tried foods that I would have never usually have before: some good, some bad. I’ve also noticed myself leaning towards one particular type of cuisine.

Weeks 5 – 8 saw myself going for a variety of seeds/grains/pasta such as:

  • Bulgur
  • Brown rice
  • Couscous
  • Quinoa
  • Wholewheat pasta
  • Wild rice

Bulgur or couscous would be used in a stir-fry along with soy sauce, and vegetables such as peppers, onions and mushrooms.

I’d cook quinoa and mix in vegetables similar to the above, but top with feta or halloumi, and a squeeze of lemon or lime for some freshness.

Brown rice with a stew or curry was one of my go-to’s. Otherwise, I’d have a mix of brown rice and wild rice with stewed or roasted vegetables.

Wholewheat pasta was used to make delicious pasta bakes, topped with cheese of course.

I was also trying to find a vegetarian burger at this point – not the burgers that only have a portobello mushroom as the ‘patty’. I’ve tried the falafel type burgers – one from a restaurant, and one at home – and surprisingly, they were heavy. Flavour was there, but it was a mission trying to finish them.

Weeks 9 – 15 I explored Indian food. Before removing meat from my diet, I only had Indian food once in a blue moon. But, if I was to order out on a Friday from an Indian takeaway, I’d go for a Chicken Dhansak.

Now, I’ve had many dishes that include ingredients such as spinach, paneer, potatoes and lentils. Indians really do make vegetarian dishes taste great!

Despite the variety of food, week 16 saw the temptation for meat come in. I’m actually starting to miss it now. I gave in and tried a vegetarian sausage, thinking it would taste nice. It tasted like cardboard. Safe to say I’m never having that again.

I wonder how long this can last because… I could really do with a good burger right now.


Ghanaian Meat Pies

I first learned how to make meat pies from my mum when I was back in secondary school. If you have an African mother like myself, you’d know they always use their eyes to measure. So, that’s how I’ve done it since.

I remember going to hall parties (if you know, you know) and biting into many meat pies with barely any filling. I never understood the point of being stingy with the filling, hence why I decided to make them myself.

Warning: you’ll need a lot of time on your hands to make meat pies. Making a small batch just isn’t logical as they will be eaten swiftly. Honestly, I’ve had to hide a few in the fridge, just so I wouldn’t be disappointed when a batch of 30 disappears in 2 – 3 days. Excluding myself, there are 4 family members in the house –you do the maths!

Of course when you have no measurements, it’s pretty hard writing up a recipe. It’s taken up some time, but here it is! I’ve used corned-beef for this recipe, but go ahead and try this with a protein of your choice or vegetables.

Makes 15 – 20 pies

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 1.5kg plain flour
  • 500g salted butter (I prefer Stork)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 250 ml water

For the filling

  • 600 – 700g corned beef
  • 1 large onion, sliced or diced
  • 1 tbsp oil (any suitable frying oil)
  • 1 Maggi cube (or liquid Maggi seasoning)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of tomato ketchup

Miscellaneous

  • 1 egg (for egg wash)
  • Rolling pin
  • Wooden board
  • Fork

Method

Dough

  1. In a bowl, add the flour and butter. Rub together using your fingertips.
  2. Add the teaspoon of ground nutmeg to the flour and butter mix.
  3. In a separate bowl, dissolve the 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 250 ml water.
  4. Add a little bit of water at a time to the flour mixture, and knead.
  5. Keep adding water and knead until you have a ball of dough.

Filling

  1. In a frying pan, heat up oil and fry onions until they start to soften up.
  2. Add in the corned beef and mix together.
  3. Add the Maggi cube, black pepper, chilli flakes, soy sauce and ketchup.
  4. Cook for 5 mins and check for seasoning.

Pie construction

  1. Flour your board and rolling pin.
  2. Beat on egg in a bowl.
  3. Get a handful of dough and roll in your hand to make a ball. Place on the board and roll out into a circle about 3mm in thickness
  4. Place some of the filling on one half of the circle, leaving some space around the edge.
  5. Close the pastry (should look like a semi circle). Using your fork, poke 3 holes into the pie, then press your fork around the edge for a decorative finish
  6. Place pies on a greased and floured baking tray. Egg wash the pies.
  7. Bake for 25 mins or until the pastry is golden brown. Enjoy!