Vegan cooking with friends

It is Friday morning and I am sitting in our sun-bathed kitchen silently appreciating and reliving last night’s meal.  Holst is playing on the radio.  It’s occasional glare from the wind section brings to consciousness the stress that has been stored in the tension hotspots of my head due to last night’s noisily interrupted sleep.  (Fortunately, Holst’s rhapsodic opera is soon to give way to a more gracious piece by Hayden, followed by a mellow and very welcome Sonata in G by Sammartini).  In the corner of my right eye I can see the leftover washing up from last night waiting to be immersed in hot, soapy water.  However, that can wait.  This is my time, my chance to regain and practice any creativity that the busy-ness of life has tried but failed to rob from me.

Today, this creativity’s focal point is last night’s vegan feast.  Dear friends of ours joined us for dinner, two of them quite unexpectedly, so I went from cooking for three of us to five of us.  This was a small but very welcome test to my creativity due to the fact that the pots and pans in our kitchen are generally ill-suited for larger numbers of catering, even five.  Nonetheless, I managed to feed us and positive feedback was gratefully recieved.  This was my first conscious try at making an all vegan menu and within the challenges of food intolerances; one of my closest friends cannot eat any white products (white rice, pasta, potatoes etc), is a vegetarian and can only eat small amounts of dairy.  Of course, this was accompanied by my gluten intolerance and the new discovery of how my body hates any dairy products.  (I shouldn’t be surprised as apparently about 50% of coeliacs are allergic to casein, and more have a lactose intolerance.  Others argue that all human beings are not meant to consume nor can their bodies tolerate dairy products).  Here’s what I served up:

Starter/Appetizers: Hummus with celery crudites and brown rice crisps (courtesy of Mr J. Sainsbury rather than myself)

Main Course: Roast summer vegetables and chickpeas, served with brown basmati rice and a side of homemade basil and walnut pesto

Dessert:  Baked summer fruits with an almond crumble topping

You will have to use your imaginations to conjure up pictures of the juicy delights that the earth in summer yielded to us; I forgot to take photos of it all.  The only photographic evidence I have to offer is this: the leftovers that Tom was going to take into work for lunch, which I guess he forgot.  But his forgetfulness has enabled me to share this with you (even if it’s not the most conventionl or artistic of food photography),

A medley of last night’s main course:

leftovers for lunch, yum

The pleasure of last night lay not only in enjoying food with friends but also knowing that the foods we were sharing were full of nutritious value and goodness.  And so, today I am grateful for being able to share the joy of food and laughter with close friends and loved ones.  And for this present state of wellness that has been foreign to my body for the last month or so.  It is day 5 without dairy, caffeine and refined sugar and my body is beginning to thank me for it.  Whilst my digestive system has found a new state of calm, my tastebuds have come alive; basking in the simple pleasures of fresh, sumptuous fruits such as canteloupe melon and perfectly ripe nectarines, and the mellowness of raw almonds.  In these times of the recession it is the simple pleasures that are beginning to count.


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