When we first started this website and journey in 1998 veganism was quite a far throw from the mainstream. Vegan cheese was only to be found in health food shops and newspapers reported on the lifestyle as if it were something akin to a cult.
We remember the excitement when the first vegan white chocolate came out and the delight taken in a simple vegan sausage roll.
What changes there have been since then! And so many of them in the last couple of years.
You can now choose from a huge variety of vegan cheeses in most supermarkets. Tesco sells ready to eat vegan macaroni cheese. Both Asda and Tesco have a value garlic bread that is vegan. And Quorn – finally – have a few vegan products.
Since this article on restaurants missing out on half a million vegan diners many chains have come out with vegan menus. MacDonald’s have removed that beef ingredient from their fries (in the UK at least) and do a vegan burger. Wagamama, Costa, Pret, Starbucks, Handmade Burger Co., Las Iguanas, Yo Sushi, Zizzi: they all cater for us, and well. Ben and Jerry’s have three new vegan flavours of ice cream…
Yes. It’s wonderful! Long may it continue and grow!
We will have been married 20 years this year… which causes me to reflect how far we’ve come, how much the world has changed in that time and to note the two items above. They were given to us as a wedding present by friends who I used to babysit for and here they are still with us, I don’t think any other dish we own has survived that long! The Cranks Recipe Book sparked my interest at once, as I had eaten in their restaurant in London while a student, and it called to mind lovely brick walls and earthenware plates of hearty soup (they now have one restaurant in Devon).
It really taught me to cook, being the only cookery title I had at the time (bit of a change there then) in our first flat that we loved so much. I was fairly clueless when it came to the culinary arts. I remember phoning my mum at times with questions such as ‘how do you cook a neep? I can’t even seem to cut it up’. With the book I learned to bake bread, make cakes and the wonderfully frugal crecy plate pie, prepare soups and casseroles got put in the dish 🙂 It influenced me in more subtle ways too. Being the one and only it got thoroughly read and I absorbed the health oriented nature of the pages, reading for example, how much adding fresh herbs enhanced the nutritional value of the food. I remember the excitement of planting up a small herb garden and reading more deeply into these subjects. Looking at it now I notice all the cheesy recipes but you could just use any one of the many vegan cheeses available now or leave it out altogether.
Bit different when we first went vegan – a vegan cookbook obtained from the library that shall remain nameless (mainly as I can’t remember it’s name, I think it was somewhat generic, but also I do not want to slander it as it may have had other redeeming recipes) was responsible for me making a vegan cheese out of marg and yeast extract 13 years ago – absolutely disgusting, totally foul!!
As for the dish, it still gets used though not as much anymore. The odd apple/rhubarb crumble is popped in it. I now favour my big Le Creuset that you can cook on the hob and in the oven with – very handy for making a sheperdess/red dragon pie base in and just putting mashed tatties on top and then into the oven it goes. I am very lucky to also have two similar cast iron AGA pans/casseroles given to us by another friend who had them sitting unwanted and unused in his garage, and these are my 3 usual dinner cooking pans now.
We’ve always been blessed with friendship 🙂 I am currently reading Walking to Greenham sent to me by a wonderful woman and friend… a fascinating book and I find myself contemplating the larger worldwide changing of the times. What will the next 20 years bring?