Wednesday, 27 June 2012

How food allergies turned my vegan daughter into a Pescatarian and why I don't care

vegan recipes
'Look into my eyes...I'll stop you being vegan'

If truth be told, I don't really love fish.  I find them a bit repulsive with their scales, scary mouths and darting ways.  But I support their right to live and that's one of the reasons I don't eat them. 

Although a Trigger fish once 'charged' me repeatedly during a dive and scared the neoprene off me.  I sank to the bottom of the sea, mask full of water, hyperventilating.

THAT fish I would have happily served up on a platter to anyone who cared to feast on it. 

Back to the point.

I don't eat meat or fish and up until recently nor did my children.  They've tried it occasionally - the odd sausage here, a mouthful of cod there - but they seem happy to stick with the veggie status quo.

Yucky, Smelly Fish

So lately it's a bit weird to find myself in the fish aisle at supermarkets, actively planning meals that involve yucky, smelly fish.

It's the allergies.  My daughter can't eat eggs, milk or nuts so where's a vegetarian supposed to get her protein?  And remember she's six, so pulses are not top of her list unless they are served on candy floss.

I can't remember how it happened, but somewhere she tried fish fingers.  And liked them.

Do you know, I never thought I'd be so happy to see fish in my freezer.  Finally here was a form of protein that was good for her, that she liked and that didn't bring her out in hives.

Vegetarian principles?  Straight out the window.

Observe my vegetarian principles...and now watch me hurl them from the window with joy.

Because as much as I support the right to life of animals and fish-type beings, I'm afraid that my daughter's health ranks significantly higher.

If you are a principled vegan or vegetarian, perhaps you are appalled.  And of course I can see that viewed from a certain angle I am looking pretty spineless. 

But if your child is forced to eat a restricted diet, you may well have experienced that nagging concern about providing balanced meals. 

And maybe like me you have a huge portfolio of nutritional horror stories in your head at any one time?  The current one is the story I heard years ago about a lack of eggs causing someone to get cataracts.  Did I make that one up?  Possibly, but it still bothers me.

So the fish might not solve the cataract problem (real or imagined) but for the time being it's helping out with the nutrition/allergies/help conundrum.

Sold-out, spineless sap?

What do you think? 

a) Sold-out, spineless sap? 

b) Brownie points to me for adjusting my values to suit the more pressing dietary needs of my daughter?

(In case you haven't realised, I'm pushing you towards choosing 'b'.)

Photo courtesy of Free Digital Photos

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Friday, 22 June 2012

Spicy Nettle Soup (gluten free, vegan)

Spicy Nettle Soup. Sounds so wrong, tastes so good.
Apparently there are only six degrees of separation between me and everyone else on the planet.

That's quite a cool thought because I've always fancied dinner with Richard Branson.

But it also means I'm quite closely linked to the bag lady who lives under a bridge.

I've nothing against bag ladies, but I worry that I could end up like one without too much effort. 

Are purple wellies wrong?

As a teenager, I sometimes wore Rucanors with a tassled Indian skirt and a trilby from a charity shop. 

Of course I would never do that again, but I did buy purple wellies recently.   It feels like a slippery slope...

I avoid refined sugar, I don't eat anything with a face and I sometimes carry a vial of soya milk around in case anyone offers me tea. 

Individually, nothing much wrong with any of the above.  But collectively? Hmmm...maybe I am strange.

And there's a woman living in my village who agrees.

Because at 10am the other morning she found me in an alley wearing one rubber glove and putting stinging nettles into a bag. 

I tried to laugh it off, but the damage is done.  I am the new person in the village who is also mental.


Random gardening in a public place

It  happened because the previous weekend my kids had wanted to cycle to the park.  To avoid stings and wailing, I nipped out with some secateurs and cut back the nettles in the alley by our house.

It's definitely weird to garden in a public place unless you're a guerrilla gardener - and yes I'd love to have a go at that - and weirder still to think 'Ooo, I fancy a bowl of these weeds.'

I remembered that I have a tendency to anaemia and wouldn't nettles be a MARVELLOUS source of iron and I should definitely make nettle soup.

See?  Random, bag lady logic.

Well look, I picked the nettles, destroyed my reputation and made the nettle soup.  And I had to add a  spicy twist because green soups can be a bit bland.

I hope you like it.

Do you know who else would like it?  Richard Branson. 

Can anyone get me an introduction?

Spicy Nettle Soup

Advice for nettle picking:  Wear long sleeves and a rubber glove.  Pick nettles that are at waist height or higher than a dog can pee.  I know it's gross, but forewarned and all that...

1 colander full of stinging nettles
1 onion
1 large potato
2 white/button mushrooms
4 cloves of garlic
1-2 small, thin green chillies
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp cumin
2 gluten free vegetable stock cubes + water
salt and black pepper to taste
Olive oil to fry
Coconut milk or cream to serve

  • Wearing two rubber gloves, wash the stinging nettles and remove the leaves from the stems.  Discard the stems and put the nettles to one side
  • Dice the potato and roughly chop the onion, garlic and green chillis.  Put them in a saucepan (preferably non stick) with the oil and fry gently.  Add the spices and fry again
  • Add the nettles, fry for about a minute then add enough water to just cover the top of the veg (you can add more later).  Add the vegetable stock cubes and bring to the boil, then reduce and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked
  • Use a hand blender to blitz the soup and then season to taste
  • Serve with coconut milk or cream
  • Probably best not to serve this to Richard Branson (refined tastes), but you could take a cup to the bag lady under the bridge.  Remember, one day that could be you.

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Allergy Recipes at

Can you guess what it is yet?

Coming next.

Got any ideas what it is and what it's made from?!

A bientot mes anges...

Pig x

*update* well done to you clever people who guessed it was nettle soup!

 Click on this link to get the spicy nettle soup recipe 

© Pig in the Kitchen All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Egg free, vegan mayonnaise

Egg free mayonnaise, hot sauce 'n' chips
 Fabric circa 1973
 Because only then was camping cool 

"I love not camping!"

My passport cover depicts a glamorous, smiling woman in front of a hotel.

"I love not camping!"  reads the slogan.  My friends snigger and think no more of it.

But I am deadly serious. 

In my book, camping is one of the most primitive forms of shelter and to be avoided at all costs.

Not so long ago I wrote a diatribe about camping on   I exhorted one and all to avoid this most heinous activity, not least because it turns hitherto civil children into feral, singing, pyromaniacs.  I know this because I was forced into camping as a child.

And yet here I am, packing my car for camping in the coldest English Summer (term used loosely) since records began.

And it's all because of the recession.


Well, I want to visit a friend in Holland in July and the prices of B&Bs are not kind, particularly when you have four children and a dog.  The only solution that presented itself to me - and I was possibly under the influence at the time - was a tent.

It is cheap-ish and you can sort of come and go as you please.

Well.  It has snowballed out of all control.  For less than the price of three nights B&B in Holland, the house is full of items for camping that I hoped never to see again.  Apart from in a museum.

And of course when you've got the damned stuff, you may as well use it, right?  So some well-meaning friends told me to come and do a two night trial with them somewhere near Oxford.  And that is where I am going today.

Wall to wall rain is forecast coupled with temperatures usually only seen in an Arctic cold snap. 

Camping with food allergies. Was a purer form of torture ever devised?

And what do you do about food?  When you are a) vegetarian b) coping with food allergies?

I entered the twilight zone of the supermarket and discovered that Smash still exists, as do Spaghetti Hoops.  Cup-A-Soups are all the rage but - sadly - vegetarian ravioli appears to have had its day.

And during my foray into the world of packet food, I came across some vegan mayonnaise!  Surely this will taste like cack, I said to myself.  Turns out that it's not too bad.  Especially when you mix it with hot sauce and dig in with tortilla chips.

So turn up the heating my friends and snuggle down into your sofa.  I will be somewhere in the Cotswolds nursing a mug of tepid soup and chowing down on tortilla chips.  In my sleeping bag, in a cold, damp tent.

I really, really love not camping.

**stop press** Within hours of publishing this post, I received a call from my friends. Turns out not everyone who camps has had a frontal lobotomy. "It's going to rain." she said, "There will even be gales. We're not going."  So I wearily unpacked the car and for the last few days we have been living off packaged, crap food.  I've been reprieved.  I just hope Holland will be experiencing a heatwave when we visit in July.

Egg free mayo

Life Free From Egg Free Mayo

Look, it doesn't taste like 'real' mayonnaise, but it does add a mayonnaise-like texture to a sandwich.  And to make a creamy dip I think it works well.  I bought mine from Morrisons and apparently you can get it from Asda, Sainsbury's and Waitrose.  In the UK, you can also buy it online from

But eat it at home, not in a tent.

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